NATIONAL NEWS

City Council in Portland approves $2.6M for police body cameras

Dec 1, 2023, 5:35 AM | Updated: 10:01 am

FILE - Flags fly in front of the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Ore., on May 24, 2013. Oregon Stat...

FILE - Flags fly in front of the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Ore., on May 24, 2013. Oregon State Police say Christopher Pray, newly transferred to Oregon's psychiatric hospital, escaped while fully shackled and drove off in a stolen car. Pray faced charges including attempted murder, robbery, assault and felon in possession of a firearm in Multnomah County Circuit Court, where Portland is located, but was being sent to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem after he was found unfit to proceed with trial, according to court records. (Paul Carter/The Register-Guard via AP, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Paul Carter/The Register-Guard via AP, File)

The City Council in Portland, Oregon, approved $2.6 million for permanent police body cameras in a unanimous vote, a crucial step toward the city no longer being among the last major U.S. police agencies without the technology.

All of the city’s roughly 800 uniformed officers who interact with the public will have body-worn cameras by the summer, after training and further negotiations with the police union, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Wednesday.

But only around 300 patrol officers will be required to wear them routinely on their shifts, the news outlet reported.

Roughly 500 other sworn members, including detectives and sergeants, will put on their cameras when they interact with the public, said police spokesperson Mike Benner.

The City Council’s approval for the cameras came after a 60-day pilot program that lasted from August to October and equipped 150 officers with cameras. The vote makes the pilot program permanent.

Among the 50 largest police departments in the country, Portland, until this year, was the only one that had not yet deployed body cameras.

A settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice requires Portland’s police bureau to implement a body camera policy. The settlement stemmed from a 2012 lawsuit brought by the federal government against Portland over allegations its police used excessive force against people with mental illness.

Wednesday’s vote followed nearly a decade of at times contentious negotiations between the city and the police union over the technology. Among the major disagreements was whether officers who use deadly force can review camera footage before writing reports or being interviewed by investigators.

Under a negotiated policy between the city and its police union, officers who use deadly force won’t get to view their camera’s footage until after they’ve provided an audio-recorded statement to internal affairs within 48 hours of the incident.

During Wednesday’s vote, Mayor Ted Wheeler said the policy might take time to implement.

“It’s going to take some time for us to phase in the rollout of body cameras and make sure that everybody has sufficient training and sufficient understanding of how these tools will work,” he said.

 

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City Council in Portland approves $2.6M for police body cameras