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Town Hall #3 Feedback

Portland Police Bureau Body Worn Camera Project

Town Hall #3 feedback

First Unitarian Church, Feb 28, 2019

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. 

  • Have you considered triggers that will activate the cameras, like when an officer touches or removed his weapon from the holster?
    • Yes, in the RFP we ask the vendors if their systems allow for triggers and what are they.
    • How is reasonable suspicion defined?
      • That is a legal term and is defined by the courts.
      • Cop Watch is neutral on Body cameras.
      • Mere conversations when you pat someone down or ask questions about criminal activity should be recorded.  If it goes past a casual conversation and the officer starts digging for information it should be considered a stop.  They should be informed if they are free to go.
      • If the intention of a mere conversation is to lead to a drug arrest then the video should capture the entire encounter so it will show if they were coerced or not.
      • There is an advantage to turn it on when you talk to the homeless.  It should be used for training and may give better ways to approach situations that are common here.
      • Is there training on how to enter and engage in a mere conversation and how they evolve?
      • How do I know what your intensions are as an officer?  It should be made clear with the camera on what the intentions are.
      • The cameras should be on once you get past the pleasantries and start asking questions about activity.
      • It seems like all we are talking about is using the videos for prosecution, what about your goals for accountability.
      • When can you ask the officer to stop recording?
      • If you decline a breathalyzer, there are consequences.  It should be the same for declining being on video.


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. 

  • What does privacy of the house mean?
  • All domestic violence calls should be recorded.
  • What is a field interview?
  • Victim interviews should not be recorded.
  • Victims should be able to request the camera being on or off.  The officer should ask for their preference.
  • Victims should get legal counsel before talking to police.
  • Physical abuse victims should not be recorded.
  • What about minors?
  • How are audio recordings from 911 handled?
  • There would be use on recording some minors, but if there are prohibitions.
  • Releasing videos of minors would not be in the public interest mostly.  Faces blurred will help.

Deactivation: When should an officer be allowed to turn the camera off?

  • What does the Oakland example mean?  What is administrative, tactical, LE sensitive?
    • Officers stepping away from the community member to discuss tactics or LE sensitive information.
    • Those should still be recorded.  Is there an option to turn off the audio?
    • Side conversations are still relevant to the incident.  What if they use bias language during those side conversations?  They should also be recorded.
    • Why would you shut it off during evidence collection?  It should be recorded to show that the officer did not tamper with the evidence.
    • For shootings, you should have it on.  You want to capture the whole scene.
      • We actually use 3D filming for shooting cases, better quality than the body cams.
      • Keeping it on for evidence collection makes sense.
      • The prohibitions against recording during public demonstrations (ORS 181A.250) covers more than just demonstrations.  Anytime a person espouses their views.
      • Officers should not use a minor issue during a protest to continue recording long after the event is over.  Needs to end at the end of the criminal event.  One person does not represent the entire crowd.
      • Can you ask the officer to leave it on?
      • Relevance of the video is important, much of the day is boring with brief periods of craziness.


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

  • People going through the worst day of their lives are not going to be thinking straight.  Officers should have discretion in these cases.
  • I like the idea that the officer has to state on camera why they are deactivating.
  • There should be an ability to object to the recording in a house of worship.
  • If you are in a church, you should ask the religious leaders first if it is ok.  If not then it should be off.
  • Should be off in all churches, it violates the religious affiliation laws.
  • It should not be on for death notices or any other event that does not have an active scene.

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)?

  • DOJ said officers should not view prior to interviews, it will change their perspective.
  • The ability for officers to review but not the citizen is an unfair advantage.
  • Concerned about officers looking for additional evidence in the videos.  Should not be used for infractions or misdemeanors.
  • Do officers write the reports right after the event?
    • It depends on how busy they are, if there are other calls waiting.  Sometime it can be at the end of shift or the next shift before they get to the report.
    • The videos would be helpful for recollection but it is good for them to do the initial statement first.
    • In the report you may want to capture their impression and why they did what they did then watch the video to enhance the thought.
    • Allowing to review prior, then the public perception is lessened.  The report should reflect their impression on scene.
    • How do you define critical incident?  Where do you draw the line?
      • Most agencies define it as a use of force, in-custody death, officer involved shooting, or serious complaint against the officer.
      • There should be a balance between the public and police needs.
      • There have been tragic incidents like police shootings caught on camera where it has not lead to the prosecution of the officers.  The public is looking for a balance to the David and Goliath situation.  The Public need to have tangible benefit and great example is no review prior to the report.


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?

  • What are the consequences of violating the policy?
  • Where does it go on the decision guide?
  • Can the system be used for accountability to see whether an officer is in or out of policy?


General Feedback and feedback received by comment card:

  • You should have Domestic Violence advocates on the stakeholder’s committee.
  • It should not be tied to a license plate database or any other database.
  • Who determines if a release is in the “public’s interest?”
  • What are the national stats on how often the recordings are used in prosecution vs in an incident where an officer receives a complaint?
    • Very few agencies we talked to have tracked any stats.  We plan to use a research partner to help us develop and track performance measures.
    • Faces of officers should not be blurred.
    • What is the main purpose of the cameras in the national arena?
    • If the videos are released to a third party like the FBI, can they use facial recognition?
    • Have you asked the officers questions on their thoughts?
    • The stakeholder committee should be open to the public to listen but not comment.
    • In your loopback to these meetings, compare to current stipulations in PPA collective bargaining agreement, what public recommendations are plainly unworkable in light of the CBA?