MOORHEAD — Clay County deputies will be equipped with body cameras, joining a growing movement in the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area to provide a video record of officers’ interactions in the field.
The Clay County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday, Sept. 22, to approve a request by Sheriff Mark Empting to spend up to $50,000 for the body cameras.
Empting had earlier presented a plan to buy 22 cameras for his 15 patrol deputies and himself, street crimes unit investigators and the civil unit, also allowing a spare.
The sheriff estimated it would cost $45,000 to purchase the cameras.
“We just think it’s unfortunate now, but it seems like there’s a lack of trust in law enforcement,” Commissioner Kevin Campbell said. “It’ll be overall good for the public.”
A couple of members of the public spoke in support of the cameras at Tuesday’s commission meeting, and commissioners also received a couple of letters in support, he said.
Clay County sheriff’s deputies’ patrol cars have been equipped with cameras for years. Clay will join the Fargo Police Department and Cass County Sheriff’s Office in equipping officers with body cameras.
Dilworth police have used body cameras for five years.
The Moorhead Police Department and West Fargo Police Department do not have body cameras for officers. West Fargo police earlier issued a statement saying the patrol cameras are sufficient, and they have no plans to buy body cameras.
Video and audio recordings captured by the body cameras generally will be private under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, with several exceptions including an officer firing a weapon in the line of duty or when an officer’s use of deadly force results in “substantial bodily harm,” according to information posted online by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.