St. Paul, MN. – Three St. Paul City Council members want to file a formal complaint against Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher regarding his popular ‘Live on Patrol’ YouTube show. Council members Amy Brendmoen, Mitra Jalali and Rebecca Noecker have submitted a resolution that seeks an independent review of the show.
Sheriff Fletcher said that the idea that his detractors don’t like his livestreams show is exactly why it is needed according to Twin Cities.
“Some elected officials are opposed to ‘Live on Patrol’ because it builds trust with the police and that runs counter to their narrative to defund law enforcement,” Fletcher said. “Many council members would prefer the public not be aware of the current increase in violent crime. They are opposed to transparency when it reflects on their failure to keep the community safe.
The council members are requesting the State of Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training Board evaluate the video to determine if it violates the Sheriff’s office’s policies and the Minnesota police code of conduct.
Brendmoen, the City Council president, said it’s not a political issue.
“We’re trying to answer questions that community members have brought to our attention,” she said Thursday, adding that those questions have included: “Why is an elected sheriff able to not wear a body camera while he’s on patrol? Why is a sheriff able to do this patrol with a camera on that’s violating what we believe are the St. Paul police’s rules of conduct and rules of pursuit?”
Fletcher started streaming his patrols live on Facebook at the end of July 2020 after popular shows like Live PD and COPS were cancelled. He did it as a way to show viewers what police do and to build trust with the community. He usually broadcasts on Friday night and has thousands of followers who call themselves “backseaters.”
In the past year, he has broadcast 400 hours of footage, which has been viewed 9.5 million times on YouTube and 4 million times on Facebook. He has 144,000 YouTube subscribers and 45,000 followers on Facebook.
“‘Live on Patrol’ is not modeled after television shows like ‘Live PD’ or ‘Cops,’ Fletcher said. “Instead, ‘Live on Patrol’ focuses on community relations, instead of arrest. In addition to preventing crime, the goal … is to build community relationships and improved trust through transparency.”
Fletcher says he’s giving residents a first-hand view of what police face on patrol. The council members say live police shows are in bad taste considering the nationwide protests against alleged police brutality.
According to the resolution, the council members say the “Sheriff’s livestream show has recorded his patrol decisions and actions which have been characterized as both reckless … and have raised the ire of community members and elected officials.” That Fletcher “has driven dangerously and erratically, and has dismissed requests to call off pursuit.”
Fletcher said pursuits and arrests make up a small fraction of the show.
“Ninety percent of it is interaction with community and only 10 percent is actually responding to the violent call,” Fletcher said. “But even the 10 percent is something that the public wants to know.”