PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After Portland was the last major U.S. city to implement body cameras for its police force, the Portland Police Bureau has wrapped up its two-month pilot program.
More than 35,000 pieces of evidence were captured on body cameras, totaling more than 12 terabytes of information. The next phase? Sorting through all of it, which could take months.
“It really does allow us to improve that sense of transparency and accountability on officers,” PPB spokesperson Sgt. Kevin Allen said.
During the pilot program, 150 officers in the Central Precinct and the Focused Intervention Team wore body cameras around the city. The devices were required by the Department of Justice in a settlement after Portland police officers were found to use excessive force.
“There has to be a review of that force that’s done by a supervisor,” Allen said. “And so a supervisor now is able to pull that body worn camera video and see what took place, what led up to the force, and then determine whether the force was appropriate and within policy.”
Under state law, police officers need to tell people their body cameras are recording, but Portland Police Association President Aaron Schmautz said that doing so can be difficult in a crisis situation.
“It can kind of change the kind of course of the conversation,” Schmautz said. “Having as many witnesses available on the scene to navigate what happened so that the public can have their questions answered is important.”
Allen said the information they receive could help in several cases.
“I recognize the need to go through the process and we want to make sure we get it right,” Allen said. “I hope we get them out there as soon as possible.”