MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A police force in a Minneapolis suburb is outfitting its officers with cameras mounted on their handguns amid calls for more transparency in police shootings.
The West Hennepin County Safety Department said the cameras are significantly less expensive than body cameras. Police Chief Gary Kroells said 10 officers from the department will carry the guns, which will bring the cost for the cameras to $7,200.
“We wanted to provide our officers the opportunity to have the video value of what happens at the end of that weapon, along with transparency for citizens,” Kroells said.
The department tested the weapon-mounted cameras over the past year as part of a pilot project, the Star Tribune reported.
The 3-inch (76-millimeter) long camera sits in front of the trigger and includes a flashlight. The camera activates as an officer draws their gun from its holster. The cameras will capture fatal force encounters and also provide information on how and why officers are using their guns, Kroells said.
“It’s not going to capture traffic stops and things like that, but if officer-involved shootings are something that a department wants to capture, this is the best tool,” said Brian Hedeen, CEO and president of Viridian Weapon Technologies in Maple Plain, which sells the cameras.
About 250 departments across the country are testing or working on implementing the cameras, Hedeen said. There are 10 agencies, including in Arizona and South Carolina, that have fully implemented them, he said. The Farmington Police Department has also started using the technology.
The company began researching the technology after the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which caused widespread unrest, Hedeen said.
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com