PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following the use of force by Portland police amid the 2020 protests and riots, last year the federal court ordered Portland police to implement body cameras. Since then, the City of Portland has been negotiating with the Portland Police Association regarding body camera policies.
What is up for debate is whether or not to allow officers to preview videos before writing up police reports and statements.
The Department of Justice and mental health advocates don’t want to allow officers to preview the footage.
“It’s the Mental Health Association’s position that a homicide is a homicide, and individuals who kill people in this community all should get the same legitimate, reasonable, thorough investigation of their actions and not be given special privileges for how to proceed to the system after taking a human life,” said Eben Hoffer with the Mental Health Association.
But PPA wants officers to see bodycam footage so they can refer to it to write their reports.
“The policies around our country are consistent with the policy that the PPA is seeking,” said PPA President Aaron Schmautz.
According to data the Mental Health Association submitted to the court, currently, more than a dozen similar-sized cities around the country allow officers to review available videos before drafting reports. A dozen other cities allow the department to determine on a case-by-case basis.
Meanwhile, some major cities, like Atlanta, Tucson, and El Paso, ban officers from reviewing videos before giving use-of-force statements.
“Instead, the Portland Police Association is fighting for a pre-review policy here in Portland that would be among the least progressive in the country,” Hoffer said.
PPB body cameras won’t start recording until there is a resolution to this debate.
“The PPA wants body-worn cameras. Our officers want to show what they’re doing. I think that they would help clarify a lot of the concerns our community has,” Schmautz said. “We are in favor of a policy that is commensurate with the vast majority of agencies. And we continue to be an advocate for what has worked because it’s important that this policy is up and running soon.”
The status update will take place in federal court. The city and PPA are currently in the process of selecting an arbitrator to settle this dispute. PPA hopes they’ll reach a decision by the end of the year.