May 12, 2023 at 11:53 a.m.
Bodyworn camera program in compliance at Sheriff’s Office
The Chisago County Sheriff’s Office implementation of the body worn camera program is complying with all the rules and being operated appropriately. That’s the conclusion of the first ever audit required to be performed after the first two years of the cameras’ use.
The county implemented body worn devices in October 2020 and the audit presented last week for the County Board acceptance, was done by Lynn Lembeke Consulting.
The county received a point-by-point review of statutory requirements and only one finding pointed out a “discrepancy” between actual practice and the state law. At the start of the body worn camera implementation the “audit trail’ showed the county inadvertantly deleted video material earlier than the mandatory 90 days retention period calls for. This has been corrected.
In several other measurements of the program the sheriff’s office passed easily.
Sheriff Brandon Thyen tells the Press, “... the body worn camera program has been an invaluable asset and addition to the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office.”
The camera recordings allow the review of an incident when there are questions about a deputy’s actions and in using the video and audio in court proceedings the real time action, comments and emotions are clear and in detail.
The body worn camera program was put into practice and is overseen by Captain Mahowald. He reports the process is going seamlessly and flawlessly after getting feedback on policies and advice from other agencies that had body worn cameras in use.
Video data is downloaded directly into the cloud and stored in a digital repository, the Captain added.
The most difficult part has been explaining to members of the public that the body worn camera footage is not generally public. Rules are that “It is private data on the individual or subject of the call,” Mahowald said the office frequently gets requests for data release that the applicant is not eligible to be receiving.
The program allows for submitting a County Information Disclosure Request Form but not all applications for release qualify. Any release of data is recorded in a Records Management System note.