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African American Advisory Council feedback

Portland Police Bureau Body Worn Camera Project

African American Advisory Council feedback

Feb 19, 2019

This document summarizes member comments and feedback from the Body Worn Camera presentation at the African American Advisory Council meeting held on Feb 19, 2019.  After a brief introduction, the Bureau proposed key policy topics and emerging trends from other police agencies and asked for feedback on what Portland’s policy should reflect.  The feedback will be used in the policy decision meetings held later this year.

Mandatory Activation:  Oregon law states a camera worn upon an officer’s person will be set to record continuously, beginning when the officer develops reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that a crime or violation has occurred, is occurring or will occur and the law enforcement officer begins to make contact with the person suspected of committing the offense. 

  • When dealing with teenagers, the camera should always be on.  Any enforcement contact, teenagers tend to push the limits and do not follow commands leading to escalation.  The camera will help document that.  Young people don’t listen.
  • Juveniles can be charged as an adult under measure 11, as young as 15.
    • Measure 11 recordings are required when interviewing juveniles.
    • Cameras should be on as the officer exits the vehicle, and not wait until he makes contact.  That way it covers the hold event and is consistent.
    • All mental health responses should be captured.
    • If asked to turn it on, they should.  There is not harm in turning it on and it is the respectful thing to do.  It makes a person feel like they are being heard.

Prohibited Activation: Oregon law allows for exceptions to mandatory activation provided they are based on reasonable privacy concerns, exigent circumstances or the safety of officers and other persons. 

  • Religious or cultural exceptions are reasonable.

Discretionary or Temporary Deactivation: When should the officer have discretion?

  • If 5 officers are all recording at an incident, which camera do you use or keep?
    • We would keep and use all.  The different camera views are helpful and assists in the analysis of the officer’s actions through their camera views.
    • If a higher ranking supervisor tells them to deactivate the camera, their name should be noted in the statement for turning off the camera as being the responsible party for the deactivation.
    • How will officers remember to turn them off and on again?
      • Just like any new equipment or technology, there will be a learning curve until it becomes second nature.


Officer reviewing video: Should officers be allowed to review the video prior to writing a routine report?  What about reviewing the video after a critical incident (Officer Involved Shooting, Use of Force, and In-Custody Death)?

  • Why is this a contentious issue?  Officers should be allowed to review the video.  It will make the report better and more accurate.
    • For routine reports, officers carry notebooks for information and refer to them for reports.  Video is just a high tech notebook.  Officers also worried that they will be viewed as a liar if there are any difference between the report and the video when in truth their memory was just not 100%.
    • For critical incidents, it is important to know what was going on in the officer’s head before the video changes their recollection of the event forever.  There is brain science that shows viewing a video can change someone’s view of the event.


Supervisor reviewing video: When should supervisors be able to review the video?  Randomly to look for compliance with policy?  Only when there is a complaint?

  • Why is there a concern over supervisors looking at the video?
    • There is concern that supervisors might “fish” looking for bad behavior.  We need to be careful that we don’t send the message that “we don’t trust you” to the officer.
    • Why would supervisors fish?  Did the officer call attention to themselves with a history of behavior?
    • Supervisors should be regulated to misconduct and complaints.  Not a good use of supervisor’s time.


General Feedback:

  • We need BWCs.  We should do this in Portland.
  • On notification requirements, there can be some subjectivity to what is a safety issue for the officer when they cannot notify immediately.
  • I would like to see public filming where the community members who have recorded something can send it to the police like road rage incidents.
  • Cameras were not made to pick up darker tones, which is why black people do not photograph well and end up even darker in the photo.  PPB should look for cameras that capture more natural tones (true to the eye) so that reality is properly reflected.
  • How will officers be selected for wearing the cameras?
    • That will be worked out when we start drafting the policy internally.  However, at a minimum, the patrol officers who respond to the calls will all have assigned cameras.  Detectives and those that work in office positions will most likely pull from a bank of cameras when they need them.
    • Will the backgrounders’ wear them?
      • No.
      • Who determines when the release is in the “public interest”?
        • Requests for videos will go through the same process as any public records request with PPB.  People will not be allowed to do a blanket request (“all the videos”).  Specific requests will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
        • It would be nice if you returned a year after full implementation and reconvened with community members to discuss the project results.
        • Is there any erase button on the camera?
          • No, officers will not be able to erase, edit, or manipulate the videos.
          • If 900 offices are doing everything right and 2 are bad, unfortunately the news will only show the 2 doing bad.
          • How much of a role did the current media trend influence the BWC decision? 
            • The National narrative and PPB not always doing the best they could in some communities historically.  This will help with level of complainants of rudeness or poor encounters.  Interpersonal encounters, day to day.  Media is not the motivation.  PPB want to do good work and this will help improve and do more good work
            • What is the budget for this project?  Why do you need something to show the public the value?  Reducing complaints is valuable.
              • To PPB, it is worth it from the level of transparency stand point.  BWC is a good effort to work towards the seriousness about transparency. 
              • Do the officers want the cameras?
                • Yes, the overwhelming majority do.
                • Has there been much change in other agencies with the cameras?
                  • DOJ agencies show little impact due to the addition of cameras, mostly because they have changed a lot of other things in their policies trying to make improvements.  So you don’t see a huge improvement with the cameras because they already made other changes that made a difference.  It is hard to tie the changes directly to the cameras.
                  • Need to make sure the policy if right for Portland, not other national agencies.  Portland is unique.
                  • Have you talked with many youth?  I recommend you talk with the juveniles at McClaren, I can help arrange that.
                    • We would definitely be interested if you can help arrange it.