Fargo Police: Body cameras have “changed lives” – InForum

FARGO — Fargo Police Lt. Shane Aberle told the Police Advisory and Oversight Board Wednesday evening, May 11, that there were “numerous incidents” when the department’s new body cameras refuted the use excessive force by officers.

When asked later how many cases, he said around 10.

However, he also pointed out in a presentation to council that the cameras are also a benefit to residents and arrestees to ensure proper procedures are followed.

Aberle described the cameras, which have been used by the department for more than six months, as “life-changing.”

“I haven’t met an officer who didn’t like the cameras. Most officers are very supportive. It’s unbelievable,” he said.

Aberle described how the cameras work and answered council’s questions about the cameras.

Worn on the chest, he specifies that they are used by each officer “every time they leave the police station”.

The cameras, he said, are the “latest and greatest” version of the Axon Body 3.

He said the Fargo department was one of the first in the country to have the latest update to cameras that essentially serve as another “human eye” on a situation. They can capture video after dark with night vision capability.

Although officers must turn on the cameras, he said Police Chief David Zibolski wanted an option on the cameras that would ensure they turned on “automatically” in certain situations.

Aberle said officers had to turn on the cameras during every call. However, he told the council that they are automatically activated on every officer within 200ft when a taser or handgun is pulled out, when a rifle is removed from the mount or when the squad car lights are activated.

“We think that’s one of the biggest features,” Aberle said, especially if officers are in a rush to respond to an incident.

Aberle said the cameras also have the ability to broadcast live video to supervisors or police headquarters during incidents. The camera flashes a different color so the agent can see if the live streaming option is in use.

Board member Todd Spellerberg said when he accompanied officers on board training, it seemed the use of cameras was “ingrained” among cops.

Aberle stressed that the cameras should be on during “every call,” including traffic stops.

When board member Conrad Thomas asked if there were any “malfunctions” with the cameras, Aberle said it would be very rare, but backup cameras are available and officers are tasked with replace cameras as soon as malfunctions occur.

Thomas said “transparency could be lost” if that happened or if an officer did not turn on the camera.

Board member Lucrachia King asked what happens if officers go to an extended event when the camera’s battery life is 12 hours.

Aberle said officers have the ability to load them through their squad car computers, or a backup could be delivered.

Aberle also said officers did not have the ability to delete video footage of an incident.

Deputy Police Chief Travis Stefonowicz said after the meeting that they had indeed been a game-changer for the department.

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