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Local law enforcement agencies wrestle with 'custodial interrogations'

An interim legislative committee is looking at how law enforcement conducts “custodial interrogations” – whether and how they use cameras or audio recorders.

A number of North Dakota law enforcement agencies have invested in cameras and audio recorders for these interrogations.

North Dakota League of Cities Deputy Director Stephanie Engebretson told the Legislature's interim Judiciary Committees one of the barriers for agencies is data storage – and how costly it is.

"I don't think we have a great handle on this yet — how, even as public agencies, how we store this data and how long do we store this data," Engebretson said. "Video recordings — that's large data."

Burleigh County Sheriff Kelly Lieben (LEE-ben) told the interim Judiciary Committee the costs of storage have given his agency pause.

"In the world of ever-rising costs and a very tight labor market, our agency has made salary the focus, with the ultimate goal of retaining our great employees, and recruiting people that have what it takes to be great public servants," Lieben told the Committee.

Liben said right now, his staff is very supportive of that direction.

"In addition, we are not seeing a push from the citizens we serve, or the elected government leaders we work with, to implement this program," Lieben said.

LIeben was asked if officers had been asking for the technology – to help them, if they are accused of misconduct.

"The only way we can guarantee good police work is to hire good people," Lieben said. "This technology doesn't supervise officers — it will document misconduct, but it will not prevent it."

he Committee is looking at potential recommendations for the 2025 Legislative Session.

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