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Public hearing on body cameras set Tuesday for Willmar, Kandiyohi County

Forum News Service file photo A Duluth police officer, shown in this 2014 file photo, presses a button on her body camera to begin recording. The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office and the Willmar Police Department will conduct a public hearing next week on a policy governing their use of body cameras.

WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office and the Willmar Police Department will conduct a public hearing regarding the agencies implementing a body camera program. The hearing begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the multipurpose room in the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services building, 2200 23rd St. N.E. in Willmar.

State law requires a public hearing when law enforcement agencies are considering using body cameras and creating a policy for their use.

Sheriff Hartog said Wednesday in a news release announcing the hearing that his office will be implementing the use of body-worn cameras. He did not announce a date, but before either department can use the cameras, they must establish a body camera policy. The policy will include how the cameras will be used, when they should be on and how the data will be saved.

The Willmar City Council approved the purchase of 24 body cameras for the city's police officers in December. Police Chief Jim Felt told the Tribune in December that the department has been discussing body cameras for several years. He said the department hopes the camera will help the officers in their day-to-day duties as well as being a community relations tool.

Felt hopes officers will be equipped with cameras and recording by spring.

Willmar and Kandiyohi County will join at least 37 other law enforcement agencies using body cameras including Benson, Hutchinson and the Lower Sioux and Upper Sioux departments.