The historic vote comes less than a week after the Department of Justice approved a policy agreement from the city and police union once the two parties reached a compromise on video reviewing protocols.
The policy states that in situations involving a deadly shooting or in-custody death, officers must first provide a recorded statement to internal affairs (including details from de-escalation to use of force) before reviewing the video.
After the initial statement, the investigator and the officer involved may watch the footage separately, providing the officer a chance to explain any discrepancies in a final statement.
“It is the most progressive body worn camera policy in the state of Oregon, and it is amongst a handful of the most progressive policies nationally,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said.
Deputy Chief Mike Frome said he thinks the program will be a tool for accountability.
“It’s going to let the citizens of Portland know exactly what they’re getting out of their police officers,” Frome said. “It’s gonna give the police officers the confidence to go out and do their jobs and not have to worry about minor squabbles over what was said later, because the camera will tell us what was said.”
The newly drafted policy requires officers to notify people when they are being recorded. The devices are designed to automatically turn on anytime an officer turns on their headlights, takes out a taser or draws a firearm.
The chief deputy attorney said officers must manually turn on cameras if dispatched to a call, if engaging with the public at protests, if stopping or searching a person or if the officer believes a crime is occuring. Police will be required to turn off the cameras inside medical facilities or when interviewing sexual assault victims.
Portland Police Association President Aaron Schmautz said the union is ready to take this step with full support from the council.
“The biggest thing for me and for our officers is hearing from a united city council that they support our officers and that they support the work that we’re doing,” Schmautz said.
The first two divisions that will get training and cameras are Central Precinct, with more than 100 officers, and the Focused Intervention Team, which are officers working to stop gun violence.
Police tell KOIN 6 News they expect all officers will likely have body cameras by the end of 2023 if the city and the police union decide the two-month pilot project went well.