Sherwood joins police body camera program
The Sherwood City Council voted Tuesday evening to move forward with a plan that will bring new body cameras, media storage and tasers to the Sherwood Police Department.
The council voted in favor of two resolutions: one to authorize city manager Joe Gall to sign an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Hillsboro for a body worn camera program, and the other to authorize Gall to execute a contract with Axon, a law enforcement supply company.
The city of Hillsboro recently was approved for a grant from the U.S. Justice Department. The grant provides matching funds for 25 new body cameras and tasers, as well as cloud media storage. Hillsboro invited Sherwood and North Plains to enter into an intergovernmental agreement to share these resources.
"Having something like this done with a larger city that has more resources is a major boon to smaller cities like Sherwood," council member Jennifer Kuiper said in the meeting.
In a work session before the council meeting, Sherwood Police Chief Jeff Groth said that body cameras have been present in the Sherwood Police Department going as far back as 2010, when an officer asked to wear his own body camera that he had purchased. Some Sherwood officers wore body cameras when responding to a highly publicized murder in King City on Christmas Day of 2016.
However, the department has never had uniform body cameras for all officers or an ongoing relationship with a single provider, both of which the grant will allow it to do.
"I believe the public would say, at this point, why wouldn't you wear them?" Groth said, when making the point that body cameras allow for more police transparency.
The initial cost to the city of Sherwood for the body cameras and tasers will be about $43,000. The city will pay $31,000 annually from 2020-2022, as part of its five-year contract with Axon. The city will pay the initial $43,000 cost with a one-time cannabis tax distribution. Those taxes come from before Sherwood voted to not allow recreational cannabis sales in 2016.
"It's very fortunate that this revenue came in and we were able to do this," Gall said at the work session.
Groth said that the police department's general body camera policies have been in place "for quite a while now." Officers are expected to keep them on, but have the discretion to turn them off if there are privacy concerns — if, for example, they are taking a statement from a sexual assault survivor.
One of the biggest challenges police departments face regarding body cameras, Groth said, is that all the data must be properly stored, which can be expensive and time-consuming. The five-year contract with Axon includes could storage for that data.
The Beaverton Police Department also has a contract with Axon, and an Oregon state task force currently is developing statewide policies and procedures for police body cameras.
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