Brooklyn Center Police mulling body cam implementation

The Brooklyn Center Police Department is considering the implementation of body-worn cameras for its officers in the near future.

During the Brooklyn Center City Council’s Monday, March 13 meeting, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon offered a presentation regarding the current state of the department’s squad car cameras and discussions regarding giving officers wireless body-worn cameras.

“This is something that the police department had been working on since the summer of 2016,” said Gannon. “We had started with a number of our committee meetings and dialogues, and start getting out the word that we were looking at getting body-worn cameras. We wanted to solicit the public’s input.”

Currently, the police department uses Panasonic’s Arbitrator 360 brand cameras for its squad cars, with one camera on the car’s dashboard and a rear-facing backseat camera. Officers also currently carry a body microphone on their uniforms to capture any dialogue that would then be uploaded back to the squad car.

But with more calls for police transparency emerging across the country due in part to citizen-police incidents, Brooklyn Center police have begun making inroads to beginning a body-worn camera program, and have eyed Panasonic’s MK2 camera model for possible implementation.

“We were looking at these, and we demoed them within the police department over the summer,” said Gannon. “Panasonic was very receptive to our needs, and they came up with a battery life that is now 12 to 16 hours. There’s no wires. Not a lot of weight to add to what we’re wearing, so a lot of officers are receptive to that.”

The cameras feature 720p 130-degree lenses with six resolution settings, a built-in GPS and Wi-Fi feature, 32 gigabytes of built-in storage, and a lightweight, waterproof constitution. The department also has the option to upload the footage to a shared cloud server.

“The expense of the product is minimal compared to the storage costs, and that’s something that we’re going to have to look at down the road here,” said Gannon. “If it gets too expensive for the server, we may look at a cloud storage-based system, which might be cheaper.”

Gannon stressed that his presentation was for informative purposes only, and that the police department would be organizing a public meeting in the near future to gather community input before making any final decisions. Councilmember April Graves noted that she would like to have the community evaluate the cameras prior to any decisions being made.

“I would strongly like to see some kind of an evaluative process for them to place as part of the policy… just to see how the community responds, especially since they’re the ones that (are) going to be paying for it,” she said.

“I happen to be a very big supporter of having body-worn cameras, and having our officers having that sort of protection,” added Mayor Tim Willson. “And that goes the other way as well, as having a video record of what happened when.”

Contact Christiaan Tarbox at [email protected]