The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office completed its second phase of implementation of body-worn cameras this month.
Earlier this year, patrol deputies began carrying body cameras. Body-worn cameras are now being utilized by correctional officers in the Adult Detention Center and deputy sheriffs in court security.
The use of body-worn cameras helps to provide an objective view of interactions between law enforcement agencies and community. “The sheriff’s office is now keeping pace with best practices utilized by law enforcement agencies across the state and country,” said Sheriff Bob Fletcher. “In the last 12 months, our office has worked hard to deliver on a promise to improve transparency, increase trust and promote accountability.”
The use of body-worn cameras aligns with the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Ramsey County is now a leader in the state as one of a few counties to use body-worn cameras in a detention/correctional facility.
Since January, the sheriff’s office has been working to implement body-worn cameras in 2019. At a Ramsey County Board workshop in March, Fletcher presented a revised timeline that called for their immediate implementation. After a series of community meetings, the county board approved funding of $1.38 million. Of that, $306,000 was approved for personnel costs and $1.08 million was approved for cameras, equipment and storage.
The sheriff’s office engaged citizens, community groups, union leaders and legal experts to achieve consensus on a policy that respects privacy, adheres to legal requirements and provides transparent access to information with the goal to further community trust. Six community meetings were held in locations across the county. Two public hearings were also held with the county board.
“This was a team effort and we very much appreciate the support of the county board,” added Fletcher. “The county board’s commitment to fund this program has made it possible and, as a result, we are more responsive to community expectations.” As of today, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office is the state’s largest sheriff’s office to implement body-worn cameras.