Becker County will buy body cameras for sheriff’s office

Todd Glander.jpg
Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander

The Becker County Sheriff's Office will be purchasing body cameras for its officers.

The Becker County Board on Tuesday, Feb. 18, approved the purchase of 22 cameras, via a five-year $68,000 contract with the Texas-based WatchGuard Video, which includes the cameras, software, storage and annual fees.

The initial one-year cost is $54,850. The additional cost is for the annual fee over five years, Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander said in an interview.

The body cams will be paid for through about $48,000 saved up through 2019 in the sheriff’s office criminal forfeiture funds, and about $6,000 will come from the Becker County Attorney’s office, through a general forfeiture fund of its own.

The County Attorney’s Office chipped in because it supports the move and expects body camera footage to prove helpful in criminal cases, Glander said.


The sheriff’s office has been using WatchGuard Video in its squad cars for several years, and has been pleased with the quality of the equipment and the videos. The new body cameras will integrate easily with the existing squad car camera system, Glander said.

That’s why the county opted to go with WatchGuard, even though two other companies submitted lower five-year quotes of $60,000 and $66,000 for body camera systems. (One company also submitted a higher quote of $91,000).

The product quality and the easy system integration make it worth the higher price, he said.

“We’re hoping to implement these as soon as possible, for sure by the beginning of summer,” Glander said. “This will be good for county law enforcement, and we appreciate the board approving this.”

The body camera audio and video will be saved on a county server for various lengths of time, depending on the situation: indefinitely for a homicide, up to 180 days in most other cases.

The body cameras will synchronize with the squad car cameras, which turn on automatically when the emergency lights are activated. The data later downloads onto a wireless server when the officer arrives back at the sheriff’s office at the courthouse.

There is also a crash sensor that turns the cameras on, and they are always recording, so an officer can turn on his or her emergency lights to make a traffic stop and the cameras will automatically record the prior two minutes —- documenting the infraction that caused the officer to flip on the emergency lights in the first place.

After an event, the officer determines whether or not to preserve it in high-definition. The squad car video captures a front view, nearly 180 degrees on the new cameras, and also the back seat area where suspects ride.


But that video evidence now stops when an officer leaves the squad camera coverage area -- when entering a business or private home, or during a foot chase, for example. Body cameras will fill in the missing documentation for a criminal case.

The idea of Becker County officers wearing body cameras hasn’t been controversial: County commissioners asked some questions during a state-required public hearing on the body cam proposal last month, but there was no public feedback at the hearing or during the two-week public comment period leading up to the hearing, Glander said.

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