Can squad cams prevent cops from racial profiling?

Video footage from the squad cam in the Darryl Jenkins case
Video footage from the squad cam in the Darryl Jenkins case

They can't hurt, according to the state's public safety commissioner.

Michael Campion and Gov. Tim Pawlenty want to outfit all the squad cars in the state with cameras, according to a story in this morning's Star Tribune. The cameras would cost just $2.5 million, the Strib reports. The idea for the cameras grew out of the investigation into the Metro Gang Strike Force, according to the Strib:

The investigation found that minorities were most often the target when the now-disbanded Strike Force conducted police "saturations" of neighborhoods. Groups of officers swept through neighborhoods, taking pictures of people who were not necessarily gang members, and scrolling through their cell phones.

Earlier this year, a squad cam captured officers from the Minneapolis Police Department beating Darryl Jenkins. Coming on the heels of the Gang Strike Force investigation, the video of police brutality has not helped to improve the image of local police.

Chief Tim Dolan has been trying to counteract the bad press, citing awards his department has won, as he did in an op-ed in the Strib Sept. 27:

Violent crime and overall crime are down significantly in Minneapolis for the third straight year. We had lots of help, but the men and women of the department deserve credit. Their production is up for the third straight year, and their work has been recognized nationally and internationally for innovation and effectiveness. I recently briefed the White House on our strategies, and this summer we won not one but two international awards from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

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