UMD Police Officers Now Sporting Body Cameras, UWS to Follow in 2022
Both Police Chiefs say, holding officers, as well as civilians accountable, is important in even the safest of environments.
DULUTH/SUPERIOR- For the first time UMD’S Police Department has gotten body-worn cameras this year. This as the police chief across the bridge at the University of Wisconsin Superior also announced they’re set to receive body cameras in February of 2022.
“It was something that we wanted to do for quite some time,” UMD Police Chief Sean Huls said.
After several years, the 12 police officers on the University of Minnesota Duluth’s campus police force finally received body-worn cameras to wear on patrol.
“Public perception is, ‘if it didn’t happen on camera, did it happen that way?’ And in today’s age we need more transparency more than ever,” said the Chief.
UMD joined all other U of M system schools in getting body cameras this year.
The Department received 15 cameras, which cost the department annually on a 5-year contract $25,000.
Since receiving them in September, Chief Huls said they have already been helpful. “We already found it to be valuable in capturing evidence, also using for interviews and using for training as well.”
“We can review some of the calls that our officers go on and always analyze it for how we can do things better,” he said.
Meanwhile, the only other university to have a police department in the Northland, UW Superior’s officers will get body cams next February, after applying since last March. “I don’t want to say behind the times, but it seems that there’s a little more red tape to go through to get these things secured,” said Chief of Police Joseph Eickman.
“To be honest I thought UMD already had them so I was a little surprised when, to learn that they just got them,” he said.
According to Chief Eickman, when officers aren’t right in front of their squad car dash cameras body cams can provide added security.
“The camera is impartial. It sees what it sees and it doesn’t take a side,” he said.
“It promotes de-escalation because it seems to me when people are on camera they chose to act a little bit differently than they would if they thought nobody was watching,” said Eickman.
The University of Wisconsin Superior is actually still in its infancy as a police department, only upgrading a year ago from being campus security.
The body cameras were also purchased, the chief said because it is a recommendation in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing by President Obama.
“Historically our crime has not been super high and it’s not been full of violent crime so this is just one way to ensure we’re giving the best possible service to the people we serve,” Chief Eickman said, “and not necessarily is a reaction to any incidents that have occurred on-campus.”
Both chiefs say, holding officers, as well as civilians accountable, is important in even the safest of environments.
“To have that protection and also provide that transparency to our community that I think we need now more than ever,” said