Body cameras for more North Dakota law enforcement agencies

Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 5:48 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2023 at 10:56 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Bismarck police officers will soon use body cameras on duty. Last week the city commission approved the department’s $1.2 million request to use a company named Axon to outfit the department with the technology. They’re joining several other departments in the state.

One of the agencies they’re joining is the Morton County Sheriff’s Office. For the past two years, Morton County deputies have clicked on their body cameras when heading to a call.

“The biggest difference is with evidence, when you get out there. There’re many uses. We use them not only for patrol, but we use them for investigation, we use them for warrants, we use them for transport. They’re really portable,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier.

“I’m able to document scenes away from my vehicle that I wouldn’t have documentation without a body cam,” said Deputy Chris Tracy, Morton County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Kirchmeier says the technology has been worth it. Since the rollout in 2021, they’ve added eight more cameras for a total of 16, all from local vendor High Point Networks, Axis Body Cameras.

Now, Bismarck is jumping on board.

“You know a lot of people ask why we haven’t already gone to the body cameras and the real reason is we wanted to see what the market was like out there,” said Deputy Chief Randy Ziegler, Bismarck Police Department.

The Bismarck Police Department uses dash cameras every day, but BPD is adding 136 Axon body cameras, 43 compatible in-car video systems and roughly nine compatible investigative room cameras.

“I think what it’s going to do is show the public that our officers do a good job. And if they are not doing a good job, it will show that as well. I think that’s really important, that transparency piece,” said Zeigler.

Aside from added transparency and protection for the public and law enforcement, officers expect the technology will help in other ways too.

“The training aspect. You know, we can now critique our officers [with the cameras]. I think it will make for better officers,” said Zeigler.

That’s something Morton County deputies say has been helpful for them too.

“Just being able to review the video, we’re always trying to be better,” said Deputy Tracy.

Each organization that uses body cameras has policies in place for when the devices need to be clicked on.

BPD officers hope their body cameras will be ready for use by August.