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Chief Jim Band: Program potentially 'effective tool' to improve understanding of interactions between public, law enforcement.

Oregon City commissioners this month approved the purchase of body cameras for the city's police officers, through a five-year, $150,390 contract with Axon Enterprise, Inc.PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Police departments throughout the country have implemented body-worn cameras for all sworn officers.

OC's approval Wednesday, July 7, came just after Clackamas County commissioners last month also approved a $1.58 million contract agreement with Axon for sheriff's deputy body cameras.

All OCPD officers will now use body cameras to ensure the safety of law enforcement, simultaneously holding them accountable, according to Police Chief Jim Band. OCPD said that a pilot program has already led to criminal convictions obtained with the aid of OCPD body-camera videos.

Before the approval of the OC Commission, OCPD officers used in-car dash cameras, but use of body cameras was optional. Now OCPD requires all uniformed officers to be equipped with a body-worn camera during their shift. OCPD's contract with Axon includes hardware, training and unlimited storage for body camera footage in a cloud-based system.COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF OC - Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band accepts a check in 2019 from the Canemah Neighborhood Association for memorials at the Robert Libke Public Safety Building.

"The goal of implementing a body-worn camera program is to support law enforcement strategies to improve public safety, enhance transparency, reduce crime, bolster prosecution efforts, and strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the community," Band wrote to commissioners. "Body-worn camera programs can be an effective tool to improve the understanding of interactions between law enforcement and members of the community and can aid in timely resolutions of inquiries and complaints."

Band said that county prosecutors will have the ability to obtain information from OCPD body cameras, which have microphones to capture what the officers say and hear. Oregon City's five-year contract calls for Axon to automatically replace the cameras at 24 months and again at 5 years.

In 2014, OCPD emerged as a leader among police agencies statewide in testing body cameras with more than a dozen of its officers. OCPD officers evaluated three different body-worn camera products, and Band said that they deemed Axon to be a "superior product," due to the overall reliability, ruggedness of camera, ease of use, customizable options and the inclusion of redaction software.

"The body-worn camera program will be implemented based on sound policies, industry accepted practices, and within state and federal laws," Band wrote.

During the current fiscal year, Oregon City plans to spend $41,718 on OCPD body-camera hardware, data storage, training and software subscriptions. A total of $27,168 is budgeted in each of the subsequent four years for body-camera hardware maintenance, data storage and software subscriptions.


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