East Grand Forks police seek input, funds for body cameras
East Grand Forks City Council held a public hearing Tuesday to discuss a proposed policy concerning in-car and body cameras for the city's police officers. Despite the public invite, no citizens were present for comment. Weeks before, East Grand ...
East Grand Forks City Council held a public hearing Tuesday to discuss a proposed policy concerning in-car and body cameras for the city's police officers. Despite the public invite, no citizens were present for comment.
Weeks before, East Grand Forks Chief of Police Michael Hedlund posted the proposed policy on the city website along with information on the public hearing.
Hedlund pointed to a Minnesota statute which requires that law enforcement agencies considering the use of body cameras "must provide an opportunity for public comment" and that at "a minimum, the agency must accept public comments submitted electronically or by mail."
Hedlund has received no feedback.
"They usually aren't afraid to speak up so I guess I took that as a positive that we hadn't received any comments beforehand," Hedlund said.
When the department received a quote from WatchGuard, a company that provides mobile video equipment for police officers, they found that the price was higher than anticipated.
"I mistakenly thought that redactive software was included in that," Hedlund said.
According to Hedlund, software that would allow officers to redact video is necessary because it would allow them to blur the faces and or alter the voices of either police officers or others caught on camera. Along with hardware requirements as well, the price of the WatchGuard system is currently too high for the department to afford.
And according to Hedlund, purchasing the equipment without the redacting software is not an option.
" we need to be able to redact it by state statute," Hedlund said.
If the department is not able to locate the funds for both the in-car and body camera equipment, Hedlund says the department will hold off purchasing the body cameras in favor of purchasing the in-car system as quickly as possible.
"Our current system is on its last leg," Hedlund said. "It's about five years old, it's just not operating the way it should anymore. So we have to get that replaced as soon as possible, and our intent would be to do that with WatchGuard."
Despite the setbacks, Hedlund says the East Grand Forks Police Department will continue to search for the necessary funding to purchase the in-car and body camera systems together.