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Olmsted sheriff's deputies will soon be wearing body cameras

Kevin Torgerson.jpg
Kevin Torgerson

Olmsted County Sheriff's Office deputies could be wearing body cameras by next month, Sheriff Kevin Torgerson said during an Olmsted County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday. The county has worked for more than a year to prepare a budget and body camera policy. Here are four things to know about the program:

1. Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson hopes to have his law enforcement deputies and Adult Detention Center officers training in the use of the new equipment at the end of this month and into early February. The department will make a public announcement before the cameras go live, soon after training is completed.

2. The Sheriff's Office purchased equipment identical to that used by the Rochester Police Department. Vendor Taser Int. has delivered the cameras and other equipment. The three-year cost to purchase the equipment, maintain it and store data using an online service was $148,681, approved by the county board in November.

3. A body camera will be issued to "all licensed law enforcement staff" in the sheriff's office, Torgerson said, as well all employees at the Adult Detention Center who work with detainees. The sheriff hopes using the cameras will improve public relations with law enforcement.

"I believe these systems and policies we have in place will show the public the good work and restore the honor of what our deputies are doing," Torgerson said.


4. The sheriff's office created a policy for body camera use based on Minnesota state statute, and the Olmsted County Attorney's Office reviewed the draft. The public hearing Tuesday was the last step in establishing the policy.

The policy sets terms for public access to video data and data retention. In general, body camera video will be retained for 90 days and will be considered public data in the case of an officer discharging a weapon, when an officer uses force that results in bodily harm to a subject, or when the subject of a video requests it be made public.

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A Rochester police officer wears a body camera on his chest in this Post Bulletin file photo. Olmsted County Sheriff's deputies will wear body cameras identical those used by the Rochester Police Department. The county program begins this month with training.

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