Saint Paul STRONG urges Saint Paul Mayor and Police Chief to "Hold their Horses" on Police Body Worn Camera Program rollout

Saint Paul STRONG

News Release


November 7, 2016

Kudos to Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell for his courageous public apology and release of a dash camera video which showed an innocent Saint Paul citizen, Frank Baker, who was attacked by a police dog and an officer on the City's East Side. In reality, the video, which is public information under MN law, had been requested by a local news outlet and Mr. Baker's attorney just days before its release by the Saint Paul Police Department (SPPD). The incident occurred more than four months ago on June 24th, less than 2 weeks prior to the officer-involved killing of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, MN. Mr. Baker also deserves our thanks for being willing to keep the incident out of the public eye at a time when protesters were blocking I-94, camping out in front of the Governor's Mansion, and marching through the streets of the Twin Cities to protest the Castile killing.

This brings us to the Saint Paul City Council public hearing that was held November 2nd on the proposed SPPD's "Pilot" Body Worn Camera Program, which is scheduled to be rolled out on Wednesday, November 9th in the SPPD Western District of Saint Paul. At the hearing, City Council President Russ Stark said he could not remember when so many people showed up--with so much passion--at a public hearing before the City Council. The rub is that the Council was informed, rather bluntly, that they played no role at all and had no authority to accept or modify the "pilot" policy on their agenda. It is entirely up to Mayor Coleman. As Council Member, Dan Bostrom, (a retired Saint Paul police officer) pointed out, the large number of citizens and community-based organizations who testified at the hearing (including the NAACP, African American Leadership Council, and the Saint Paul Black Ministerial Alliance), demonstrated that a consensus or agreement on the "pilot" policy does not exist in the City. Since the "pilot" policy was placed on the Police Dept. website on October 27th--just 6 days before the public hearing on Nov. 2nd--the City Council held the matter over until their next public hearing date of Nov 16th, which is one week AFTER the program will have already been in operation.

Saint Paul STRONG urges the Mayor and SPPD Chief Axtell to allow adequate time for public input BEFORE the program is rolled out on our city streets. This policy should not be rushed into implementation or "vendor-driven" down the throats of the citizens of Saint Paul. Given the events portrayed in the video of Mr. Baker last week and the lack of agreement or consensus between the Police Dept. and many segments of the community, Saint Paul STRONG believes it would be in the best interest of all for the Mayor and the Police Chief to shelve the implementation of the Worn Body Camera Program until we can reach some type of mutually beneficial consensus on how we move forward--thereby addressing the breach of trust that already exists, rather than broadening it.

You can learn more about Saint Paul STRONG, its members and principles at http://www.saintpaulstrong.com/

Saint Paul STRONG, as a group, does not take positions on any issues. We are a nonpartisan community-led organization dedicated to improving open and representative government in Saint Paul by encouraging and supporting open and transparent public processes at City Hall, engaging and empowering resident participation, and building a stronger, more inclusive Saint Paul.

For further information contact:

John Mannillo, Saint Paul STRONG Spokesperson

John@mannillowomack.com

651.292.8306 

or

Linda Winsor, Saint Paul STRONG, Communications

lindajwinsor@gmail.com

651.224.6004

http://www.saintpaulstrong.com/

https://www.facebook.com/saintpaulstrong/

https://twitter.com/SaintPaulSTRONG