Minnesota State Troopers to begin wearing body cameras

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(KSTP) – Every Minnesota State Trooper will be outfitted with a body-worn camera by the end of next June, giving the agency an unprecedented level of transparency in how they interact with the public. The cameras will be another level of video documentation joining the squad car cameras that have been in use for many years.

"The body-worn cameras give us an opportunity to have an undeniable record of what occurred roadside to augment [what] happens with the squad video systems," Colonel Matt Langer told reporters outside the State Patrol’s district office in Golden Valley Thursday.

He says state troopers had more than 410,000 interactions with the public in 2020 — mostly on traffic stops and accident scenes. However, they also faced some criticism and lawsuits over actions they took responding to protests last year.

"Although we’d like to think every state trooper is perfect we’re also human beings as are members of the public, so the interaction captured on body-worn cameras will hold everyone accountable and it will have a record of what actually occurred between the trooper and the member of the public," Langer says.

Trooper Ben Madsen is among a handful of troopers currently using the cameras on a test basis.

"It’s incredibly easy to use. Like the colonel was talking about it activates on its own when we make a traffic stop when we activate those emergency lights," Madsen said.

The Minnesota Legislature authorized $8 million for cameras for all 645 state troopers, Capitol security and all other state law enforcement officers.