Fierce debate sparked over body camera announcement

12:47 PM, Oct 18, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -  Minneapolis City Councilwoman Betsy Hodges called a press conference Thursday to make a big announcement.

With fellow council members Cam Gordon and Gary Schiff, they announced their plans to launch a $25,000 pilot program for the city in which a select number of Minneapolis police officers would wear body cameras.

But what was not present in the press conference was any representation from the Minneapolis Police Department.

Hodges was asked why, specifically, the person she said she was working with on this effort, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, was absent.

Hodges said Harteau was out of town.

That was true. Chief Harteau is in Philadelphia at a conference with other major city police chiefs. But that's not the reason she didn't attend the conference.  

"No, it's not like I was invited and said, 'I am out of town,'" Chief Harteau said Thursday afternoon. "I was not even invited today."

In fact, the Chief said she asked Hodges to hold off on a press conference until she was back in town, and until Harteau had a plan for a pilot program with her officers. But Hodges didn't hold off.

"I did talk to her and ask her to wait. I said I would absolutely consider a pilot in 2014 and she said she couldn't honor my timeline and that is what it is," said Chief Harteau of Hodges' announcement.  "So, I'm happy to say it was premature."

Chief Harteau said this is very troubling to her because she has been researching body cameras for months and she told Hodges in a budget meeting last September that she would come to her and the council with a plan when she had one.

Harteau says that hasn't happened yet.

"Yeah, I'm very frustrated because I'm out of town and all this stuff is happening without me there and nobody ever asked me to be there," Harteau said.

But at her press conference, Hodges led reporters to believe this was all approved by Chief Harteau.

When asked by a reporter if she had Chief Harteau's blessing to move forward with this plan, Hodges replied, "This is something in committee she said she did want to move forward on, and I've been working with her."

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