You're on camera, you betcha: Fargo police live stream traffic stops

You're on camera, you betcha: Fargo police live stream traffic stops
While police body cameras are the rage across the nation, police in Fargo, North Dakota have started live streaming traffic stops to educate and connect with the public, they say. Others criticize the broadcasts as public shaming that compromise privacy.

Using the app Periscope, Fargo police have made public traffic stops near North Dakota State University in hopes that motorists will slow down, according to KVLY.

"It's just another form to talk to people," Fargo officer Jessica Schindeldecker told KVLY. "We want people to ask us questions or be able to interact with us in a positive way, and this was just one more form of them to be able to do that."

Transparency is key to the live streaming, not shaming anyone who is pulled over, she said.

"We know that it's live broadcasting, and once it's out there, it's out there. So we are going to be very sensitive about that and how we use it," Schindeldecker added.

But license plate numbers can be seen in the broadcast.

"If you're either friends with that person or knew who that was, recognized the car you can tell who that is," said Mara Paulson, a Fargo motorist who has seen some of the livestreamed videos.

"I think it would be more for entertainment purposes for everyone watching, not like oh, I shouldn't do that type of thing," Paulson told KVLY.

Other police departments are using Periscope in an attempt to show all sides of police encounters. Last week, a St. Louis County lieutenant colonel used the app to tape protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith told NBC News that he advocates Periscope for officer patrols and department news conferences.

"We as an agency need to become more transparent," Smith said. "Things are literally now at our fingertips, and we should take advantage of (social media platforms) if they work for us."

He added that while he is concerned about privacy in the case of traffic stops, ultimately he hopes live streams will bring police and the public closer.

"We don't need to have this big wall, this veil of secrecy," he said. "If we can get to the community directly, we should try what's out there."

In Fargo, Officer Schindeldecker said police will own up to mistakes made in the process of live streaming encounters.

"We may make a mistake, or someone might not like it, but by all means, we are going to man up to it, and we will make sure we fix it, and we want to make this a positive experience for us, and for the community,” she said.

Schindeldecker told KFGO that the Fargo Police Department has received positive feedback on the broadcasts so far, and that the department plans to offer more streams in the future.