DOJ requests body cameras for Portland police officers

Civic Affairs

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a new list of requests from the Portland Police Bureau amid an ongoing back-and-forth between federal officials and the City of Portland surrounding a joint settlement agreement.

Among the nine requests, which were discussed Tuesday, according to a spokesperson for Mayor Ted Wheeler, was the request for the city to implement a body-worn camera program for all officers.

The full list of requests, which involves various items involving looking at officers’ use of force, training, holding officers accountable, and community engagement, stems from a 2014 settlement agreement which the DOJ found the bureau was no longer in compliance with due to use of force at protests in 2020. A city spokesperson said the city is giving serious consideration to the suggested remedies.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has spoken out against body cameras in the past, saying they’re expensive and there has been “inconclusive evidence that they provide police accountability and reduce police use of force.”

Hardesty said she couldn’t currently comment on the details because of the ongoing bargaining between the City of Portland and the police union, Portland Police Association, but on Twitter said, “I have been researching the issue and now believe there is new technology, policies, and additional best practices to draw from that can lead to a body camera program that produces better outcomes in policing, but the devil is in the details.”

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, police union leader Daryl Turner said, “The Portland Police Association has voiced their support for body worn cameras not only as an accountability measure but also to document the outstanding work that Portland Police Officers do every day.”

The attorney for Elijah Warren, a Black Portlander who is suing the city after he said he was beaten by an officer outside of his after being mistaken for a rioter on the 100th night of protests in the city last year, said he’s in favor of body cameras and thinks it would have helped his client.

“If the police are being recorded in their interactions with people, they are more likely to behave properly and second, if they behave improperly, there’s a permanent record,” attorney Greg Kafoury said, adding, “and that can be used for accountability.”

The full list of requirments is below:

  • City of Portland should implement body-worn cameras for all officers
  • The City of Portland should revise its Force Data Collection Report and After-Action Review forms to include information “to show required timeliness of completion and review.”
  • The City of Portland “should contract with a qualified outside entity to critically assess the City’s response to crowd control events in 2020 in a public-facing report that includes recommendations to which the City will publicly respond.”
  • The City of Portland “should create a ‘needs assessment’ for crowd control training that adequately addresses issues PPB’s response to the 2020 protests. We propose this should be part of the crowd control assessment we just discussed.”
  • The City of Portland “should ensure PPB’s budget covers officers’ annual required training without relying on overtime.”
  • The City of Portland “should appoint a qualified civilian head over PPB’s Training Division to ensure consistent and appropriate training based on problem-based learning and other generally accepted adult-learning techniques.”
  • The City of Portland “should identify and hold accountable [Rapide Response Team] Lieutenants and above who approved force without adequate justification during the 2020 protests.”
  • If City of Portland’s “proposal for addressing timeliness and quality of investigations and effective discipline is the implemetnation of the new voter-approved Community Police Oversight Board, the City should propose amendments to the Agreement within 90 days and forumulate a plan for an orderly transition to and full implementation of the Board.”
  • The City of Portland “should issue its 2020 annual report and hold the required meetings before the end of summer 2021, and do the same in 2022 and any future years during which the Agreement is still in effect.”

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