Portland City Council approves funding plan for permanent police body-worn cameras

All uniformed Portland Police Bureau officers who interact with the public will be equipped with the devices.

An officer stands with their back facing the camera and words "Portland Police" across their back with downtown Portland and the Willamette River blurred in the background on a sunny day.

Tammy Mayer, the PPB’s body-worn camera program manager, said Axon cameras and software “performed very well” during the pilot.

Photo via the city of Portland

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Portland City Council has approved a funding plan to outfit most of the city’s police officers with body-worn cameras in the coming months.

Under the plan, the city can spend up to $2.6 million to buy enough body cameras from Axon Enterprises to outfit all Portland Police Bureau uniformed officers who interact with the public (about 810). The budget also includes training and the technology needed for processing and storing video footage.

Portland was the largest municipal police department in the country without body cameras before a pilot program got underway earlier this year. About 150 PPB officers (from the Central Precinct and the Focused Intervention Team) wore Axon cameras for two months starting in August.

Who will wear them

Nearly 300 patrol officers will be equipped with the cameras every day, while 500 additional sworn members — like detectives and sergeants — will wear them while interacting with the public. It’s unclear whether the officers who participated in the pilot will continue wearing their cameras between now and when the remaining 650 officers receive their devices.

The timeline

Mayor Ted Wheeler, who oversees the PPB, said that rolling out the new body cameras is going to take “some time” because officers will need plenty of training. The policy that governed the pilot program, agreed upon by the city and the police union, may also be adjusted. During the pilot, officers were required to turn on their cameras for all service calls and the cameras turned on automatically if an officer drew their weapon or turned on their vehicle lights. City officials estimate that officers will be ready to wear the devices within the next 10 months.