The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police spurred an ongoing nationwide reckoning on race and intensified calls by Minneapolis residents for substantial police reform. Reform efforts have been underway in the city since last summer, with the latest policy change requiring officers to keep their body cameras on at all times when responding to a call.
According to CNN, officers can no longer turn off their body cameras to have a private conversation when responding to a call. The updated policy does allow for conversations regarding tactics and performance to be redacted when the footage is released to the public. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced the change in a joint statement.
“Strengthening accountability and increasing transparency have been cornerstones of our community safety work,” Mayor Frey said in the statement, CNN notes. “This update helps leadership provide a more complete and accurate picture during and after incidents, and puts officers in a better position to hold each other accountable.”
“Accountability is not achieved with any single solution, but changes like this move us toward an even more transparent approach to public safety and building trust with the communities we serve,” Arradondo added in the statement.
This is the second time in two years that the city has updated its body camera policy. In 2019, the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk by former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor wasn’t caught on video despite the officers wearing cameras. As a result, the policy was updated to require officers to activate their cameras as soon as they’re dispatched to a call. This latest update seems less like a drastic overhaul, and more like the closing of a loophole.
This is only the latest in a series of policy changes for the Minneapolis Police Department. Recent changes include requiring officers to announce their presence when delivering a no-knock warrant, banning chokeholds, updating its use of force policy and having an embedded assistant city attorney assist on investigations related to police misconduct.
The Minneapolis City Council has stated its desire to “dismantle” the existing structure of the police department, and has made efforts to shift money from the police department towards mental health and violence prevention programs for the community. This latest policy change is slated to go into effect on Feb. 4.
“We’ve seen as a community and as a police force, body camera footage increasingly plays a crucial role in understanding critical events in our community,” Arradondo said in the statement.