PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Vancouver city officials announced $1.5 Million in state funding has been approved to help purchase body-worn and in-car cameras for the Vancouver Police Department. 

In a statement Thursday, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler said the funding package was greenlit by the full U.S. House of Representatives this week as part of the FY22 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill.

The financial backing comes after the Vancouver Police Department first piloted the body and dash camera computer system back in December of 2021.

The program development was largely in response to mounting public requests to increase transparency after the department shot 4 people, including minority individuals and those with mental illness within a 30-day period in 2019.

“Body-worn and in-car cameras have become a useful tool for our police officers to safely and effectively protect citizens,” Herrera Beutler stated. “I’m pleased to have worked with the Vancouver Police Department to advocate for this funding which will both aid officers and increase transparency.” 

According to Beutler, the request for support in funding the program came from the Vancouver Police Department. If approved, the financial package would provide the department with 250 body-worn cameras and 100 police patrol vehicles with in-car cameras.

“As law enforcement continues to seek opportunities to build trust and transparency with our communities, receiving this funding is very helpful as the Vancouver Police Department moves closer to implementing our Police Camera Program,” Vancouver Chief of Police James McElvain said. “Our community has asked for police cameras for a while now.  We are grateful for Representative Herrera Beutler and Senator Cantwell’s support in securing this funding for us. This makes the next steps in our process assured and easier.” 

KOIN 6 News previously spoke to local civil rights advocates who supported the department’s implementation of the program, although they did not believe the cameras would stop police-on-community violence and further expressed concerns regarding funding and accountability. 

That December report, including statements from community leaders, can be viewed here

“Like many communities across the country, Vancouver is working to address concerns about police accountability, transparency, and trust in local law enforcement,” Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said. “That work led us to create the Community Task Force on Policing, which includes a broad cross-section of stakeholders and identified a police camera program as a critical element to building trust between local law enforcement and the community. “

She continued on to thank both Congresswoman Beutler and Senator Cantwell for “recognizing the hard work our community has put into this effort and for showing their commitment to our efforts by securing a federal investment that will allow us to implement our new police camera program.” 

The funding package is slated to go before the Senate for consideration within the next week.