MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The U.S. Marshals Service will now allow local law enforcement assigned to its Fugitive Task Force to use body cameras, according to the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's office says the change comes after the shooting death of Winston Smith last week, and years of a policy prohibiting local agencies from wearing body cameras while assigned to the task force, also called the Northstar Violent Offender Task Force (VOTF).
Body cameras were implemented at Ramsey County Sheriff's Office in September 2019 for over 400 employees. However, those employees were prohibited from using body cameras on federal task forces until now.
On Sunday, the sheriff's office signed an addendum that modifies an agreement made in 2014 with the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. The addendum will require any Ramsey County deputy who is federally deputized and assigned to the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force to wear and use a body camera.
The agreement does not apply to federal officers, however. They will not use body cameras.
"As a part of this new agreement, the U.S. Marshals Service in Minnesota required that any data collected during task force operations be the property of the U.S. Marshals Service in Minnesota," Ramsey County officials said in a statement.
The change comes following a federal investigation that resulted in a shooting death with no body camera footage. On June 3, task force members, in several vehicles, confronted a man at a parking ramp in Uptown. Officials said the man wouldn't surrender and pulled out a gun, resulting in multiple task force members opening fire.
The Minnesota BCA, which is leading the investigation in this case, says that a Hennepin County sheriff's deputy and a Ramsey County sheriff's deputy working on the task force shot Smith. In addition to no body camera footage, there was also no video from squad vehicles.
WCCO is reaching out for comment from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office on the U.S. Marshals Service policy change.
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