Frequently Asked Questions

Body-Worn Cameras

Who can view the Body-Worn Camera (BWC) video?
Peace officers that have a legitimate, law enforcement-related reason can view the video. If there is a legitimate, specified law enforcement need, McLeod County Sheriff's Office can share BWC video data with another law enforcement agency.

Generally, most BWC video data is "not public" data. The video data is presumptively private and can only be accessible to a person that is on the video.

If the video is part of an active criminal investigation, the data may not be public data.
If the video contains several people, permission needs to be granted by all involved people before the data is released. If an involved person does not consent to the release, they can be 'redacted' from the video by having their face blurred and their voice distorted.

Most Corrections BWC video data is considered private or confidential.
Who is considered a data subject?
Any individual or entity whose image or voice is on the video is considered a data subject.
What is redaction?
Redaction is the process of concealing the identity of people on the video by blurring their faces and distorting their voices.
When is Body-Worn Camera (BWC) video data public?

When a peace officer discharges a firearm in the course of duty, except during training and for the purposes of killing injured or sick animals.

When use of force by a peace officer results in substantial bodily harm. When the data subject (person on the video) requests that the video be released to the public. If the video contains people that do not consent to the release or if it contains an undercover police officer, those individuals will be redacted by having their face blurred and voice distorted.

If a peace officer is disciplined, the related BWC video data is part of the personnel data, which is public.

If made public by a court order.

Does the Sheriff's Office have discretion to make some video public?
Yes, per Minnesota statute (13.82, subd. 15), a law enforcement agency can release nonpublic, private, or confidential video if it will aid in the law enforcement process, promote public safety, or dispel widespread rumor or unrest.
Are all victims, witnesses, and children part of public video?

No. The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act limits disclosure of information about certain individuals

  • Victims and alleged victims of criminal sexual conduct and sex trafficking
  • Victims of child abuse or neglect
  • Vulnerable adults who are victims of maltreatment
  • Undercover officers
  • Informants
  • When the video is clearly offensive to common sensitivities
  • Victims of and witnesses to crimes, if the victim or witness has requested not to be identified publicly
  • Individuals who called 911, and services subscribers whose lines were used to place a call to the 911 system
  • Mandated reporters
  • Juvenile witnesses, if the nature of the event or activity justifies protecting the identity of the witness
  • Juveniles who are or may be delinquent or engaged in criminal acts. Individuals who make complaints about violations with respect to the use of real property. (Code violations, real- estate ethics violations, tax law violations, etc.)
  • Deputies and employees who are the subject of a complaint related to the events captured on video
What if the video is public but it is very graphic? Does the video still get released?
Per Minnesota statute (13.825, subd. 2(5)(b) a law enforcement agency may redact or withhold access to portions of data that are public when the data is "clearly offensive to common sensibilities."
What types of situations will McLeod County Deputies and Correctional Officers record?
Deputies will record any police-citizen encounter if there is reason to believe the recording will have evidentiary value or if the encounter may result in use of force. Deputies will use their cameras to take recorded statements from victims, witnesses, and suspects. Deputies have discretion to record general citizen contacts.

Correctional Officers will record any use of force situations and any situation deemed unusual, within the user’s professional judgement.  Correctional Officers have discretion to record other situations as needed.
Will someone having a medical emergency get recorded?
When deputies determine that there is not a law enforcement need for recording, they will deactivate their body-worn cameras. In medical emergencies where criminal activity is not suspected, cameras will not be activated.
Do deputies or Correctional Officers need to notify people that they are being recorded?
No, but if someone asks if they are being recorded, Deputies and Correctional Officers will tell them if it is safe and practical.
Can I ask a deputy to turn off their body camera?
It will depend on the situation. If there is not a law enforcement need or if the situation is not adversarial, a deputy will have discretion to turn off the camera or keep it on.
Is the data safe?
The data is very safe and is subject to very strict rules and regulations set forth by the FBI. The data is encrypted and stored off-site from McLeod County Sheriff's Office.
How long will McLeod County Sheriff's Office keep the data?
State statute requires the Sheriff's Office to retain all video for at least 90 days. Video that documents the discharge of a firearm by a deputy in the course of duty, use of force by a deputy that results in substantial body harm, and formal complaints made against a deputy related to the incident need to be retained for 1 year. The Sheriff's Office has the option to retain video longer if they wish and will do so in certain circumstances, such as investigations involving death or serious injury.
What if a Deputy and Correctional Officers fails to activate their body camera?
Deputies and Correctional Officers are expected to activate their body cameras if it is safe and practical to do so. However, it is recognized that Deputies and Correctional Officers must also attend to other primary duties and the safety of all concerned, sometimes in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving. Any time a Deputy or Correctional Officer fails to activate their recorder, they will need to articulate the reason why. A Deputy or Correctional Officer that fails to activate their body camera without a justified reason may face discipline.
Will deputies be allowed to review video prior to writing a police report?
Yes. Deputies can use video to further assist in preparing a police report, giving a statement, or providing testimony in court. An example would be reviewing video of a DUI case would be permissible. 
Can the body cameras "pre-record" events?
Yes. When a McLeod County Sheriff's Deputy or Corrections Officer activates their body camera, it will capture the previous 30 seconds of video, but not audio.
How many body cameras does McLeod County Sheriff's Office have?
The McLeod County Sheriff’s Office has 42 body-worn cameras, 31 for the Patrol division and 11 for Corrections.
Does every McLeod County Sheriff's Deputy get their own body camera?
All licensed personnel will be issued a body-worn camera. 
Will McLeod County Sheriff's Office Detectives wear body cameras?
Detectives will utilize body cameras if they determine that the body camera would be beneficial to their investigation.
Where can I find McLeod County Sheriff's Office's body camera policy?
The body camera policy and records retention schedule are posted on McLeod County Sheriff's Office website.
What brand of body camera is McLeod County Sheriff's Office deploying?
We are deploying Axon body-worn cameras. The body-worn cameras are smaller than a cell phone and will be affixed to the Deputy's and Correctional Officer’s upper chest.
What are the camera's capabilities?
The camera has a 12-hour battery life and recording options from 420p standard definition to 1080p high definition. Data is stored on the camera during the deputy's shift. The video is uploaded, and the camera's battery is charged at the end of the deputy's shift.

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