Camera Bill Would Mask Actions of Police

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth ten times that. The camera doesn’t lie, and body cameras worn by police officers provide an undeniable record of the actions of law enforcement. Sometimes, that video record clearly shows police officers acting inappropriately with the application of force.

S.F. No. 498 is a bill that was recently passed by the Minnesota legislature. The legislation introduced by State Senator Ron Latz allows law enforcement officials to redact the showing of both excessive, and lethal force from the public record. The provisions the legislation contains grant law enforcement agencies the sole authority to determine what is too sensitive for public view.

Ostensibly, the legislation was intended to protect family members from the pain of watching their loved ones experience incidents of police brutality or the use of deadly force. Under current policy, law enforcement always blurs the face of the victim from recorded evidence. However, the language within the new law grants law enforcement agencies the ability to blur as much as they deem necessary from the video.

This means that important details of an officer-involved shooting, or an arrest where excessive force was used could be permanently hidden from view. The redaction of this information is nothing more than video editing that could be used to mask the truth of what occurred. This masking of truth is essentially an editing of fact and would put Minnesotans at a disadvantage when defending themselves against allegations made by law enforcement officers.

Provisions within the law allow Minnesota criminal defense lawyers to challenge the redaction of information. However, should the judge determine that the redaction is appropriate, defendants would have little recourse in getting the fully unredacted video shown to a jury of their peers or released for public view.

Governor Dayton can still veto the legislation. Should he do so, it will protect citizen’s right to transparency. Body cameras and other recording devices used by law enforcement are intended to protect the public from police brutality. By granting law enforcement agencies the right to redact evidence of excessive or lethal force, the legislation would effectively deny the public the protection cameras and other recorded evidence is intended to create.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Confidential informants may provide integral information to help build criminal investigations, but how reliable is that information when they are receiving payment for their services? To protect them, state law requires the identity of informants be kept confidential. For those facing criminal charges, however, this creates challenges in questioning the accuracy and validity of the information given at trial.
Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.