Body camera pilot for Portland Police could start in August

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Some members of the Portland Police Bureau could have body cameras by August, according to a timeline in city documents released Friday.

The timeline, which is outlined in the city’s request for proposals, targets Aug. 1, 2022 as the potential launch date for the body-worn camera pilot program.

Approximately 175 body cams will be tested during the pilot. If all goes well, body cameras could roll out to the entire agency by Spring 2023.

The implementation of body-worn cameras for Portland officers has been anything but simple so far. Portland is currently the largest police department in the country that doesn’t have body cams.

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In November, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced his plan to get officers equipped with body cams, committing $2.65 million to the program.

Body cameras have been one of the sticking points between the police union and the city in ongoing contract negotiations. Both parties are in favor of the cameras in general but have not agreed on the specifics of the actual policy.

One of the questions still being discussed — when can police review body cam footage?

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The union wants officers to be able to review footage before writing reports, arguing that doing so would make reports more accurate. Civil rights activists disagree, raising concerns officers may alter their story to fit the video if allowed to review footage beforehand.

Yesterday, Portland Police Association President Sgt. Aaron Schmautz addressed the issue during a community discussion.

“No one is sitting here saying we should be able to edit video. We want the truth to be fully, concretely and in the most cumulative way, concretely put together so we can tell the public what happened and they can see it and understand for themselves,” said Sgt. Schmautz.

Most police agencies in Oregon with body cam programs allow officers to look at video before writing reports — including Oregon State Police, Gresham, Forest Grove, Beaverton and Eugene police.

On Wednesday, the city of Portland will begin the bidding process to find a contractor that can provide approximately 800 body cams and storage.

WATCH: Portland is the only large city in America whose police officers don’t wear body cams


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