St. Cloud Police Department to utilize body worn cameras

The St. Cloud Police Department (SCPD) will utilize body worn cameras in early 2021. Photo courtesy of University Chronicle archives. 

As technology becomes more advanced, many public services are upgrading their equipment to better serve the community. In the world of criminal justice, utilizing body worn cameras has been a hot topic discussion in recent years. St. Cloud is hoping to implement body worn cameras in the next few months.

“We plan on implementing the Body Worn Camera program in the first quarter of 2021, once the officer training is completed.” wrote Adam Meierding, Commander of the St. Cloud Police Department.

The SCPD has a contract with Axon, a company who creates technology to enhance police departments.

Eventually, the SCPD plans on equipping each of their 106 officers with a body worn camera (BWC). Each camera costs approximately $700. The model that the SCPD will be purchasing is the Axon Body 3 camera.

“The cost depends on several factors, including the quantity, storage needed, accessories, etc. Our contract with Axon covers Body Worn Cameras, Fleet Video Recording, unlimited data storage, and Tasers as an all-inclusive package,” wrote Commander Meierding. “Year 1 looks a little different as we are ‘consuming’ our existing Taser and Fleet Video contracts.”

A table providing the details of the costs associated with the Axon contract with the SCPD. Table courtesy of Commander Adam Meierding.

Body warn cameras have received a lot of public attention regarding how the footage can be used as evidence.

“The data (or video) will be collected and stored for a specific period of time based on our evidence retention schedules,” wrote Commander Meierding. “This varies depending on the type of case the video is associated to. If the video has evidentiary value it could be used in court for prosecution. The use of the video is heavily regulated and most times the video is considered private data. The use of the video is specifically governed by MN Statutes 13.825 and 626.8743.”

A lot of time and research was put into the policy before the final decision made, by both the department as well as the community. Community members were able to bring their input to the decision making table. The policy for the BWCs is found on the SCPD’s website.

“We believe the BWCs, and the policies governing their use, have evolved and they are now ready to be deployed to our officers,” wrote Commander Meierding. “We think the body cameras will be beneficial in documenting our interactions with the public and will highlight the great work our officers do.”

The mission of the SCPD is to “protect and preserve the constitutional rights of all people; develop, foster, and participate in problem solving partnerships with the community; and maintain an atmosphere that provides a high quality, caring and participatory department.”

“In addition, the implementation of BWC’s reflect our continued commitment to providing highly effective and transparent public safety services,” wrote Commander Meierding.

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Anna Panek

Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.

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