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Citizen Review Committee Feedback

Portland Police Bureau Body Worn Camera Project

Citizens Review Committee feedback

Mar 6, 2019


This document summarizes member comments and feedback from the Body Worn Camera discussion at the CRC meeting held on Mar 6, 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. 

  • Like the Albuquerque outlier of if they are not complying with an officer commands like they are walking away.  The video can be used later if there is a case of questionable use of force.
  • Where in the protest timeline should officer activate the cameras?  Before deploying flashbangs?  What about when police start making loudspeaker warnings to the crowd?  The incident commander should tell officers to turn them on at that point.
  • What about officers using pole cameras during protests?  How do those fit into this law?
  • Not complying with an officer’s commands could be a catch-all for activation.
  • Concerned about splitting split second when officer needs to record during a rapidly evolving incident.  They may not have time to turn the camera on before the situation gets out of control. 
  • Goals stated improve community trust and training, how will BWCs do that?
  • When police engage community members in “mere conversations”, it sometimes goes beyond that and all pat-downs for weapons should be recorded. 
  • Roll call and other discussions between officers should be recorded because they may denigrate members of the community.


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. 

  • Sexual assault victims is a good case not to record.
  • Can someone ask to turn it off?  Does the officer have to comply?
  • Does the public know when the camera is recording? (Most cameras have a visual light that indicates it is currently recording.)
  • Strongly recommend not following Cleveland’s model (no recording in entertainment venues). (Prohibited activation can be overruled when a mandatory activation incident occurs.)


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

  •  What is an example of the Oakland rule? (administrative, tactical or LE sensitive)

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

  • Oregon law about reasonable suspicion is broad, is that a floor or ceiling? (That is more of a floor, we can expand on it and make it tighter if needed.)
  • Like the part about the officer stating why they are turning off the camera before they actually do it.
  • There should be fewer opportunities to remember to turn cameras on and off.
  • Does the bureau have a stated grace period (like for Taser rollout) about forgotten camera activation?

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)?

  • What is the justification for why an officer can’t view their own video?
  • If the situation goes sideways, officer may want to view the video to try to adjust their initial report.
  • Review for any use of force has to do with what the officer was actually doing at the time.  They should not be reviewing footage before writing the report.
  • Officers should not clarify reports after watching footage.
  • Officers should only be able to watch their own videos not those of other officers on scene.
  • If giving the officers the footage on scene, why not the public?
  • Can a victim get an unblurred copy? (No, all public released videos will have faces blurred.)
  • Does the server save an unblurred version? (Yes, the original is kept on the server, unaltered.  We will use a copy to blur.)
  • Can a victim come in and ask to see the video (unblurred) but not get a copy?
  • If the community cannot see the video, then the officers should not be allowed to see it. 

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?

  • East Haven example is good (supervisors shall review all recordings of incidents involving injuries to prisoners or officers, uses of force, vehicle pursuits, or misconduct complaints.”
  • Ferguson is good too (for the purpose of training, performance reviews, critique, early intervention inquires, civil claims, and administrative inquiry.”
  • On the PPB timeline, the bargaining was not in there. (It is built into the community engagement/policy discussion piece but not called out specifically.)
  • What about if a supervisor is reviewing a video and sees an issue?  Are they required to report it?

General Feedback and feedback received by comment card:

  • Is there a memory card that is used?  What is the chain of custody for the recordings?
  • Is there any way for an officer to delete or remove videos? (No there are security restrictions.)
  • Can the camera be “lost”?  Do they have GPS? (The cameras are attached in varying ways to the uniform, but it is possible for it to be knocked off during a struggle. )
  • Who has access to the database of recorded footage? (The BWC team and public records release personnel.)
  • Do the devices have removable SD cards? (No, I believe most cards are secured internally to the device and cannot be removed.)
  • Do they turn on if there is a g-force event (traffic accident)?( Some cameras have different triggers for activation; weapon removed from holster, activation of lights and siren, officer goes horizontal, etc.)
  • What are the minimum requirements for the cameras? (Too many to list, but we asked about battery life, focal point, triggers, standardized video formats)
  • What extent will the final selection process be visible to the public? (We will announce the ones we plan to pilot.)
  • How many cameras are there to choose from? (There are dozens of vendors but really only 6 or so that can handle a department of our size.)
  • Will SERT wear the cameras? (To be determined who will wear them besides the day to day patrol officers.)
  • Do other first responders like fire wear them? (Not that we know of.)
  • What is the penalty for not turning on the camera? (That will be in the disciplinary matrix.)
  • Has there been any feedback from communities of color?  Have you reached out to specific groups like the ACLU or NAACP? (We have met with a variety of groups and others were unable to schedule a meeting but sent us their recommendations.  The notes from all meetings and the position papers are all available on the website.)
  • Have other agencies ask the community about their thoughts? (Not that I have found.  Most agencies just notified the public that they were instituting the cameras but did not ask for thoughts on the policy piece.  Portland is unique.)