More technology is making its way into law enforcement agencies across the state.
Body cameras are the newest gadget being added to police departments.
They are becoming a regular on police uniforms across the country. Two North Dakota agencies are just the latest to add the tool to help them with their everyday investigations.
“It helps with community relations. That we have a very good relationship without community right now. But even so, with having a body camera, it helps so that the community knows they can come to us and view whatever we are doing out here,” shares Lincoln Police Chief Robyn Krile.
“I look at it as more is for officer protection more than anything else. However, it also works along the transparency that we’re doing out on the road,” added Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier.
The Lincoln Police Department has already begun using the VISTA HD cameras. The officers on duty are now required to have the camera on the entire time they are at a scene.
“The city of Lincoln, we are a smaller department. We only have six officers. We have three body cameras that we are sharing amongst the officers, whoever on duty is required to be wearing the body camera,” said Chief Krile.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has been testing the cameras since last summer and plans to move forward with purchasing six.
The cameras will be given to deputies in charge of transporting those in custody.
“The goal would be to get all the patrol officers with the cameras also,” Sheriff Kirchmeier said.
Burleigh County Criminal Defense Attorney Justin Vinje says body cams are a win-win for everybody because they allow for both sides of the story to be seen.
“I think in the end having a body cam video that I am able to look through it’s going to help me get the answer I need. And in a sense, it’s going to eliminate uncertainty,” he shared.
Morton County is still in the process of choosing which camera is the best choice, with the goal of having them in use by the summer.
The Ward County Sheriff’s Department has also been equipping its deputies with body cameras since the summer of 2018.
Ward County Sheriff Robert Roed says although body cameras are still fairly new, they have definitely been beneficial to the department and beyond.
“Body cameras have been very useful for us. Not only evidentiary in court, but they reduce officer complaints. So if somebody calls in a complaint, we’re able to go right to the body camera and we can see exactly what happened,” the Sheriff added.
The only issue: the expense. A single body camera costs about $1,200.