Beaverton Police getting 100 body cameras through DOJ grant - KPTV - FOX 12

Beaverton Police getting 100 body cameras through DOJ grant

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Some of the body camera models the Beaverton Police Department is considering. Some of the body camera models the Beaverton Police Department is considering.
The helmet camera, currently worn by BPD motorcycle officers. The helmet camera, currently worn by BPD motorcycle officers.
Officer Bryan Dalton, wearing his helmet camera. Officer Bryan Dalton, wearing his helmet camera.
A woman at Thursday's body camera open house. A woman at Thursday's body camera open house.
BEAVERTON, OR (KPTV) -

The Beaverton Police Department is getting 100 body cameras, thanks to a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

As part of the implementation program, the department will be developing policies, inviting the public to give feedback and will “forward findings and best practices” back to the USDOJ as part of a pilot program for other law enforcement agencies.

But the idea of body-worn cameras isn’t entirely new to the department.

For the last two years, the agency’s motorcycle officers have worn helmet cameras.  Officer Bryan Dalton said they’ve come in handy many times.

“I really enjoy having a camera on me.  It’s something I wouldn’t want to work without,” Dalton told Fox 12.  “It records sound and video, so what I say to [people I make contact with in the field] is recorded, what they say to me is recorded, there’s never a question about it.”

The helmet cameras have the ability to provide video and audio for the 30 seconds prior to an officer activating them. 

Now, the department is considering a range of cameras to determine which model will best meet the needs of the patrol, traffic and front-line officers who will be wearing them.

Community members were invited to ask questions, see demos and weigh-in on the issue at an open house Thursday evening.

Some, like Beaverton resident Juliana Tennent, support the idea of body cameras.

“I think it’s good for everybody,” Tennent told Fox 12.  “It gives officers the power to show what they’re doing and that they’re following policies and doing their jobs correctly.  It can show if the people they’re confronting are being obnoxious and uncooperative.”

But other attendees weren’t so sure.

“I have some reservations and I came to get more information about it,” said Suzanne Greer of Beaverton.  “I think it’s expensive, and I honestly think we have a very good police department here and, possibly, we don’t need to check up on them quite that much.  I just hope it doesn’t interfere with their ability to do their jobs.”

“One impression I have is that it’s kind of burdensome – not just one more clunky piece of gear for them to wear but another burden of having to inform people about it,” her husband, Gene Greer, added.  “My real question is how would you feel about having to wear a body camera where you work?  It’s intrusive and it sort of implies the distrust of police.  I think the police here do a pretty good job.”

Several policies and procedures still have to be worked out surrounding issues like video storage, release of records and privacy, so there’s no estimate yet on when officers will actually start wearing them.

“For instance, if I come into your house is it okay for you to tell me to shut off the camera for privacy?” said BPD Public Information Officer Mike Rowe.  “We’re just trying to get people’s ideas and thoughts about how they feel about the body cameras, but it’s also important for the department because it continues with our transparency.”

To learn more, visit the department’s Q&A page at http://www.beavertonoregon.gov/DocumentCenter/View/10615.

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