Body Worn Camera FAQ

The City of Portland has started and paused this program multiple times due to funding issues.  However, as part of the DOJ Settlement Agreement, the City of Portland has agreed to getting this program up and running.
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Who will wear the body worn cameras?

The current policy requires: All on-duty sworn members in a uniform assignment displaying a badge who take part in Special Emergency Response Team (SERT), patrol, traffic, public order event operations, and special duty work for secondary employers, regardless of rank; and All other sworn non-uniform Bureau personnel when engaging in police action, excluding detective interviews.

Does the community want body worn cameras?

A 2015 nationwide survey found 88% of Americans supported police use of body worn cameras. When we received the funding for the system in FY16/17, there was significant local support. We are currently in discussions with Western Oregon University to assist us in a research partnership to study among other topics, the current climate and local support for this project.

Other local agencies with body worn cameras are: Gresham, Port of Portland, Beaverton, Portland State University, Oregon State Police, Hillsboro PD, Forest Grove, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

When did PPB start looking into obtaining body worn cameras?

PPB began studying body worn cameras in 2014 and held community forums and collected online feedback on our website in 2015. In FY16/17, City Council funded the project, however, PPB was not ready to move forward and the project was put on hold. Since then, other major cities have refined key issues in policies and technology related to the systems. In 2018, PPB staff traveled to comparable sized jurisdictions in Arizona and California to gather more information about the practical realities of body worn cameras including; RFPs, policies, community engagement processes, overall costs, and technical requirements. Several lessons emerged from those trips ultimately readying PPB to move forward avoiding the mistakes made by other agencies and better understanding the emerging best practices around the use of the cameras.

Why does PPB want to implement a body worn camera program?

The Portland Police Bureau believes cameras will:
• Strengthen community trust and relationship
• Improve transparency and accountability
• Promote officer safety, while safeguarding the rights and privacy of community members
• Enhance complaint resolution and improve quality of investigations and criminal prosecution
• Improve training

What is the budget for the body worn camera program?

During the FY 2020-21 Fall Budget Monitoring Process (BMP) the Portland City Council authorized a one-time use of funds in the amount of $2.6M to provide PPB with the ability to create a BWC program that will allow compliance with the DOJ Amended Settlement Agreement.

Additionally, the adopted budget for FY 2022-23 included $694,603 in on-going General Fund resources to hire 1.0 FTE Information System Tech Analyst IV and 5.0 FTE Coordinator I to implement and support the BWC program.

On Dec 13, 2023, Council approved an increase to the not-to-exceed amount to $10 Million to allow for a 5-year contract with Axon.  This allows PPB to lock in 2022 prices with Axon (quoted in the RFP) along with a no cost refresh and upgrade of equipment at the 2.5 year point.  While the contract is still being worked out, the annual cost to the vendor will be approximately $1.6 Million.

What are current applicable laws?

The State of Oregon passed legislation in 2015 to include ORSs: 133.741, Video cameras worn by law enforcement officers, 165.54, Recording Notification, 181A.250, No Information Gathering, and 192.345, Public Records Exemptions.

Oregon law requires the following:
• Minimum 180 days retention on recordings.
• Prior to videos being released publicly, the faces of all persons (including officers) must be blurred and unidentifiable.
• Videos can only be release when it is in public interest.
• Oregon law requires the officers to announce at the beginning of the interaction that the conversation is being obtained as long as the announcement can be accomplished without causing jeopardy to the officer or any other person and without unreasonably impairing a criminal investigation.
• Oregon law requires officers to set the cameras record continuously, beginning when the officer develops reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe a crime or violation has occurred, is occurring or will occur and the officer begins to make contact with the person suspected of committing the offense.
• Oregon law says no law enforcement agency may collect or maintain information about the political, religious, or social views, associations or activities of any individual group, association, organization, cooperation, business or partnership unless such information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activities and there are reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct.

What are the key topic areas for the policy discussion? 

The big policy questions include: When should the cameras be turned on? When should they stay off? How long should the recordings be kept? Will officers have access to the recordings before writing reports or responding to internal affairs inquiries?

How do I get updated information and/or provide feedback?

The Portland Police Bureau will publish information such as: meeting minutes, the project timeline, etc. on its website. The website also has a feedback component. The Bureau will also advertise community forums through traditional media and its social media sites.

What is the current timeline for full implementation?

Currently, PPB is finalizing the contract with the vendor.  While that is being negotiated, IT and electrical work has begun on the facilities that will house the docking stations.  Additionally, the policy is being reviewed for any final considerations.  PPB is currently aiming for a summer launch and will do so in phases with Central receiving their cameras back first after a quick refresher training.  Then we will rotation in the other precincts and divisions in groups, conducting training first then making sure there are no issues before moving to the next group.  We anticipate full implementation by Fall.