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Rochester police deploy wearable cameras

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Sgt. Chris Wicklund, of the Burnsville Police Department, wears a body camera beneath his microphone. The Rochester Police Department is waiting for permission to buy 100 similar cameras.
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A small number of police officers in the city of Rochester have started using wearable camera technology, according to an email sent to media outlets Tuesday afternoon.

Rochester Police Department Lt. Craig Anderson said the department had trained five of its patrol officers to use the wearable camera technology, and those officers could start using the technology "whenever they are comfortable."

The city authorized purchase of 100 mobile video recording devices in June at a cost of $86,996. After crafting a policy for use of the cameras, the department has said it will launch a pilot program with 12 officers using the new technology. After resolving any issues with evidence collection, storage and sharing, the department would train all patrol officers to use the wearable cameras.

Anderson said he expected to train the remainder of the pilot program officers next week and have the officers using the body cameras by Dec. 4.

Of the officers trained in camera use so far, three started using the cameras on Monday, Anderson said. Those officers are scheduled to be off-duty through next week. The other two officers trained in camera use are on duty through Friday and could use the cameras if they are comfortable.

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"The biggest thing for them is getting comfortable with where to mount the camera," Anderson wrote in an email to the Post-Bulletin. "Once they figure that out they will likely be using them."

Drafting a policy for camera use took about four months and was a joint process between the Rochester Police Department and the Police Policy Oversight Commission. The commission concluded its review of the policy on Oct. 20.

The policy dictates officers turn the cameras on to record virtually all interactions with members of the public; some exceptions in the policy allow officers to turn the cameras off in sensitive situations.

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