PORTLAND, Ore. — The U.S. Justice Department is recommending that all uniformed officers in Portland wear body cameras if they are on tactical, traffic or crowd control operations.
Portland has been in negotiations with the police union over how the cameras would be used and when officers could review footage after an incident. The union has said it supports the use of body cameras but wants officers to be allowed to review footage before writing their reports.
Last week, a federal judge directed the city of Portland and the U.S. Department of Justice to go back to mediation to try and bridge its differences.
The Justice Department sent a letter Monday to Portland City Attorney Robert Taylor and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Chief Chuck Lovell, in which the Justice Department recommended that officers who use deadly force or are involved in a death in custody not be allowed to review footage until they've reported the use of force, completed paperwork and interviews associated with the incident and been given permission by the local prosecutor.
The Justice Department also recommended the following:
- Cameras should automatically turn on when an officer draws a gun, fires a Taser or initiates a car chase.
- Cameras should be activated when officers are dispatched to a call for service and engaged in any law enforcement activity with a member of the public, excluding sexual assault investigations or death notifications.
The Justice Department said Portland is the only city among the top 75 most populous cities, ranked by 2020 U.S. Census data, that doesn't use officer-worn body cameras. On Wednesday, the Portland City Council is expected to vote on a proposal from Mayor Ted Wheeler that would allocate $2.6 million to start purchasing the cameras.
Giving officers cameras is one step that Portland can take to return to compliance with a 2014 settlement with the federal government over police use of excessive force against people with mental illness.