Community donation helps fund body cameras for Wyoming Police Department

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The snow on the ground outside Hallberg Marine in Wyoming, Minnesota is a pretty good indicator the state’s boating season is winding down.

But there is one thing heating up in this small community, that is the partnership between this boating business and the city’s police department.

"I think anything we can do to make the city a safer place for citizens, it has to be a step in the right direction," said Gene Hallberg, CEO of Hallberg Marine.

For the last two weeks, the Wyoming Police Department has been getting familiar with body cameras.

This small department of 10 hasn’t had them until now.

"It’s really simple technology but vital for transparency," said Paul Hoppe, Wyoming Director of Public Safety. Hoppe says his officers have been asking for cameras, and citizens expect them. But the technology comes with a cost.

"Four years ago we looked into trying to implement a body-worn camera program, but the costs were $50,000 to start the program and about $25,000 a year to maintain it," Hoppe said.

"There is a large group of police agencies across the state that simply cannot afford them," he added.

Wyoming is getting help funding the program thanks to a community donation from The Hallberg Family Foundation of more than $20,000 to buy the equipment.

"Maybe with this kind of gift somebody in some other communities will think about doing the same thing for their police departments and make everybody safer," Hallberg said.

"We are fortunate because we have a businessman who donated and made the difference for us being able to implement the technology, but a lot of communities simply don’t have that available," Hoppe said.

At a time when some communities are talking about defunding police departments, this unique partnership is meant to not only increase transparency and accountability for officers, but its citizens as well.

"As a police chief, that’s amazing to really see our community stepping up and rallying behind us and really putting up some funds to help us deal with some of these issues," Hoppe added.

The Wyoming Police Department hopes to have the body cameras in use by Dec. 1.