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Access to Body Camera Data

The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act governs how and when recorded data from Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) may be accessed by the public. The Act states that data collected by a BWC system are private data on individuals or nonpublic data. However, there are certain instances in which BWC data can be made available to the general public or to the subject of the recording. There are also instances in which public data may be withheld from release by the department.  See below for an outline of these instances and further guidance on how to access BWC data.  

When is Body Camera Data Public?

  • Discharge of a Firearm – BWC data that documents the discharge of a firearm by a peace officer, other than for training purposes or the killing of an animal that is sick, injured or dangerous, is public data and subject to disclosure upon request.
  • Use of Force – BWC data that documents the use of force by a peace officer that results in substantial bodily harm is public data and subject to disclosure upon request. Substantial bodily harm means bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or which causes a fracture of any bodily member (M.S. 609.02, subd. 7a). 
  • Public Personnel Data – BWC data that are public personnel data under M.S. section 13.43, subd. 2 (5) are public data.
  • Request by Data Subject – BWC data are public if a subject of the data requests that it be made accessible to the public, provided that the identities of other data subjects who do not consent to the release of the data are redacted as well as the identities of any peace officer whose identity is protected under M.S. section 13.82, subd. 17(a).

Release of Public Data

In those instances where BWC data is classified as public due to its content (Discharge of a firearm, use of force resulting in Substantial Bodily Harm), an individual may request the data by completing the online request form and submitting it via the web, by mail, or in person. The MPD may also choose to proactively release this data via its website where it will be accessible on-demand without a written request.

When is Body Camera Data not Public?

  • Active Criminal Investigation – Investigative data, including BWC data, collected or created by a law enforcement agency in order to prepare a case against a person, whether known or unknown, for the commission of a crime or other offense for which the agency has primary investigative responsibility are confidential or protected nonpublic while the investigation is active.
  • Classified elsewhere in the Data Practices Act – BWC data that are classified as not public under any other provision of the Government Data Practices Act retain that classification.
  • Offensive to Common Sensibilities – Beyond redacting protected identities and other not public data, BWC data that are deemed “clearly offensive to common sensibilities” may be withheld under current law at the discretion of law enforcement.
  • Certain Medical Data – Medical data provided to law enforcement by a medical provider is protected by the Minnesota Health Records Act (M.S. 144.294, subd 2).

Release of Not-Public Data

In certain instances, the MPD may choose to release BWC data that is classified as not-public per the data practices act if the department determines that the release of the data will aid the law enforcement process, promote public safety, or dispel widespread rumor or unrest (M.S. 13.82, subd. 15).

Requesting Body Camera Data

Data Subject Access

Per the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Body Camera Data may be accessed by any person or individual who is the data subject. Minnesota Statues 13.825, subd. 4 states that a data subject includes the peace officer who collected the data, and any other individual or entity, including any other peace officer, whose image or voice is documented in the data. While a data subject has the right to access BWC data in which they are identifiable as the subject, data on other individuals contained in that BWC data who have not consented to its release will be redacted. 

The Responsible Authority for the City of Minneapolis has the discretion to set reasonable standards for verifying the identity of any individuals or entities who request BWC subject data. Without the ability to verify the identity of a data subject utilizing reasonable methods and effort on behalf of the City, the MPD Records Information Unit (RIU) will not be able to release the BWC data. The following situations will allow for reasonable verification of identity:

  • The individual requesting data is named in the audio of the BWC recording
  • The individual is named on a corresponding MPD report and can provide the RIU with a photo ID to verify that they are in fact a data subject

Making a Request

Data subjects may submit their requests in the following ways:

  • In person
    • In-person requests can be made by coming to Room 31 in the Minneapolis City Hall/County Courthouse building at 350 S. 5th St., Minneapolis, MN 55415. Requestors will need to complete the BWC Data Request Form and present RIU staff with a photo ID to confirm their identity.
  • Mailed Request
    • Requests made by mailing in the BWC request form will need to be accompanied by a notarized, color copy of the photo ID of the data subject.
  • Request for Release to a Third Party
    • The subject of BWC data may authorize the release of such data to a third party such as a legal representative, insurance company, or family member, through expressed written consent for release. To authorize release, the data subject or their representative will need to present the RIU with a release statement signed by the data subject accompanied by a notarized, color copy of the data subject’s photo ID.
  • Request for BWC Data to be Made Public
    • Per M.S. 13.825, subd. 2(2), a data subject may request that BWC data be made accessible to the public, provided that the identities of other individuals who have not consented to the release are redacted. In order to request that BWC data be made publicly accessible, a data subject must complete a BWC Data Request form indicating that the data be made public and submit the form to the RIU following the procedures outlined above.
  • Request for MPD to retain BWC Data
    • Per M.S. 13.825, subd. 3(c), a data subject may submit a request to a law enforcement agency to request that BWC data be retained beyond the applicable retention period. To make such a request a data subject must complete a BWC Data Request form indicating the request for the data to be retained and submit the form to the RIU following the procedures outlined above. In these instances, the MPD will maintain the data for 180 beyond its normal retention period.

How We Process your Request

Receiving Requests

Upon receiving your request, we will acknowledge receipt and provide you with a reference number for your request.
Prior to fulfilling a request, we may contact the requestor for the following reasons:

  • to ask for clarification or additional information to help us fulfill the request
  • to indicate that the request may involve a charge or require pre-payment
  • to request verification of identity of a Data Subject

In order to process your request, we will require certain information types, without which we will not be able to locate the data you are seeking. Please be sure to complete all fields of the BWC Data Request Form to ensure that we sufficient information to complete your request and that we may do so in the most expedient manner possible.

Processing Requests

If you are the data subject of a request, you will be able to receive all BWC data related to an incident in which you are involved. However, per the statutory provisions of MN Statutes 13.825, the identities of all other individuals in the data must be redacted or removed if they have not provided express written consent for their release.

Reviewing and redacting BWC Data is the most labor intensive portion involved in the processing of a request. Staff must view, in real-time, all data related to your request and redact the identities of all individuals or entities that have not consented to release. This includes obscuring any information that has the potential to reveal the identity of an individual. Dependent upon the amount of data, this process can take a significant amount of time.

When considering the time between your request and the production of data by the MPD, please note also that upon receipt, your request will be placed in a queue with all other requests for BWC data and processed in the order in which it was received. You can ensure the timeliest completion of your request by providing all necessary information as well as the required identity verification materials at the time of your initial request.

How will I Receive my Data?

The MPD has several options for preparing and providing data to requestors. You may choose how you wish to receive the finalized data by selecting the method of production on the BWC Data Request Form. These options for provision of data are detailed further below: 

Electronic Delivery
The MPD has the ability to provide individuals with a direct, emailed link to their requested BWC Data through our storage and processing system. In order to view and download videos from this system, requestors are asked to register with the system by providing an email address and password for access. Once a requestor receives a link to their requested data and registers with the system, they will have the ability to view the data and download it to a personal device.

Delivery on Digital Media
If you do not wish to register with MPDs system for electronic delivery of BWC Data, you may also choose to receive the data on DVD or another medium such as a flash drive. These delivery methods do, however, have a charge associated with them per the MPD’s current data practices charging schedule. Requestors may pick up the data in person or ask that it be mailed to them.

On-site Inspection
A requestor may always choose to inspect the data only and not receive a physical or electronic copy. Per the Data Practices Act, inspection of data is always free to the requestor. In order to inspect the data, requestors will need to come to the Records Information Unit offices in Room 31 of City Hall. Kiosks will be available for a requestor to view the data on-site. If, upon review, the requestor determines that they wish to receive a copy of the data, they will need to make that request to staff and then wait the requisite time for provision of the data. In this instance, the requestor will also be responsible for the payment of any applicable data charges.

Standards for Verifying Identity

The following will be accepted by the MPD Records Information Unit as proof of identity as a subject of BWC Data

  • An adult individual must provide a valid photo ID, such as
    • a state driver’s license
    • a military ID
    • a passport
    • a Minnesota ID
    • a Minnesota tribal ID
  • A minor individual must provide a valid photo ID, such as
    • a state driver’s license
    • a military ID
    • a passport
    • a Minnesota ID
    • a Minnesota Tribal ID
    • a Minnesota school ID
  • The parent or guardian of a minor must provide a valid photo ID and either
    • a certified copy of the minor’s birth certificate or
    • a certified copy of documents that establish the parent or guardian’s relationship to the child, such as
      • a court order relating to divorce, separation, custody, foster care
      • a foster care contract
      • an affidavit of parentage
  • The legal guardian for an individual must provide a valid photo ID and a certified copy of appropriate documentation of formal or informal appointment as guardian, such as
    • court order(s)
    • valid power of attorney

Note: Individuals who do not exercise their data practices rights in person must provide either notarized or certified copies of the documents that are required or an affidavit of ID.

Appealing a Decision Related to Your Request

If you are not satisfied with the access decision made by the City, or have an issue with the data maintained by the City, there are several options available to the public for appeal and resolution of issues related to data requests.

  • Challenging the Accuracy or Completeness of Data – Individuals have the right to challenge the accuracy or completeness of data of which they are the subject.  An individual must notify the Responsible Authority in writing, describing the nature of the disagreement.  The Responsible Authority then has 30 days to do one of the following:
    • Correct data found to be inaccurate or incomplete and attempt to notify past recipients of inaccurate or incomplete data, including recipients named by the individual.
    • Notify the individual that the Authority believes the data to be correct.
  • Request an Opinion from the Commissioner of Administration – The Commissioner of Administration has the authority to issue advisory opinions on the MGDPA and the Minnesota Open Meeting Law (OML).  These opinions may be requested:
    • By a city, when the Responsible Authority is unsure how to classify data or respond to a data request.
    • By a person, when that individual disagrees with a data practices determination.
  • Administrative Remedies – Persons with data practices disputes may file a complaint with the State Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).  A complaint must be filed with the OAH within two years of the alleged violation and must:
    • Be in writing
    • Be submitted under oath
    • Detail the factual basis for the alleged violations
    • Be accompanied by a filing fee of $1,000 or bond to guarantee payment
  • Compel Compliance – Any aggrieved person seeking to enforce their rights or obtain access to data may bring an action in district court to compel compliance with the MGDPA and may recover costs and disbursements, including reasonable attorney’s fees, as determined by the court.

Last updated Oct 6, 2016

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