Resolution on ALPRs, work ahead on body cameras

By Kathy Hahne, Faegre Baker Daniels
Chief Jeff Potts, MCPA Legislative Committee Co-Chair

Click here for the original legislative agenda set before 2015 session

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association went into the 2015 Legislative session with four main priorities:

1. Reasonable retention time for automated license plate readers (ALPR)
2. Data privacy protections for the use of body cameras
3. Increased funding for the Financial Crimes Task Force
4. A traffic diversion program that truly addresses safe driving

 

Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPR)

In the end, our legislative team found a compromise on ALPRs that allows departments to keep read  data for 60 days.  Read data is information collected by an ALPR unit that isn't instantly connected to a crime but stored for future investigative purposes. There are a number of substantial safeguards in the bill to protect drivers’ privacy, including restrictions on access to the data base, public logs,   independent biennial audits, and a requirement that agencies adopt an ALPR policy. The bill also requires agencies to report the acquisition of new technology.

Body-worn cameras

Despite the 2015 session ending without an official resolution on body camera issues, MCPA made significant progress on body cameras’ data practices classification that sets the stage for 2016.  

Sen. Ron Latz (DFL- St. Louis Park) authored an MCPA-supported bill that generally classifies body camera video data as private unless the recording occurred in a public place and: “the incident involved the use of a dangerous weapon by a peace officer or use of physical coercion by a peace officer that causes at least substantial bodily harm,” according to the legislation.

While the full Senate approved this version as an amendment to the ALPR bill, the House did not hear the bill.

The good news, though, is that this complicated legislative proposal has been approved by one body. MCPA will be meeting with legislators over the interim in an effort to hit the ground running on this issue during the 2016 legislative session.

Financial Crimes Taskforce

Legislature earmarked funding in the BCA’s budget to address this.  

Safe Driving Diversion Programs

Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL Red Wing) and Rep. Linda Runbeck (R- Circle Pines/Lino Lake) introduced legislation that was the same as the compromise language negotiated last year by MCPA and MSA. This legislation was not heard this session but does carry over for possible hearings during the 2016 legislative session.

Other Significant Issues MCPA was watching in the 2015 session

Support for agencies dealing with mental illness related calls

Legislature appropriated $200,000 in new CIT funding.

Guns

While the public safety omnibus package contained a provision allowing hunters to use suppressors and weak reciprocity language, there were at least two significant enhancements in Minnesota gun laws that improve public safety, including making straw purchasing and the possession of ammunition by a person not legally authorized to do so crimes.

Marijuana/Hemp:

There were only technical changes to the medical marijuana law, which goes into effect July 1. This shouldn’t impact law enforcement. However, the legislature approved a pilot program for the Commissioner of Agriculture to oversee the growing of industrial hemp. The major law enforcement concern on this issue is that while Hemp has a significantly lower THC level than its cousin Marijuana, there is no field test in place that detects THC levels in the suspected plant material.

No action:

Legislature took no action on changes to forfeiture laws and little to no action on all other MCPA issues. 

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association would like to extend a special thanks to the Legislative Committee for their hard work and dedication this session, as well as to the lobby team at Faegre Baker Daniels – Tom Freeman and Kathy Hahne, who will be retiring at the end of the year.

Over the summer we’ll be working on best practices for agencies considering the acquisition of body-worn cameras. We’re also aiming to meet key legislators in the state House and Senate to work toward a resolution on body camera data classification.

The 2016 session is expected to be short because of Capitol construction. With a March 8th start, it’s cutting nearly a month off the front end of session and things will be busy.