Newly approved software upgrades will see new in-car dash cameras, body-worn cameras for all officers

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Scappoose police officers will soon be outfitted with body cameras — a first for the agency. The addition of body worn recording devices is part of a package deal for in-car camera upgrades.Scappoose police officers will soon be wearing body cameras on their uniforms.

Scappoose city councilors unanimously approved a $94,000 package, to be approved by the city manager, for in-car dash camera computer systems and coordinating body cameras.

The package deal is good for five years and will include a complete upgrade of the police department's current camera system for patrols.

"I've been looking into it for the past year," Scappoose Police Chief Norm Miller said last Tuesday. "I wanted a body camera that's first of all going to be the best for the officers, the citizens, and be a product you can actually work with."

Miller presented options to the Scappoose City Council Monday evening, May 21. He noted the system being recommended was a package deal presented as the most efficient and economical option after the city's insurance agency put out a request for proposals for law enforcement camera software.

"We're recommending, as a police department, that we move to this new technology," Miller told the council.

"The camera systems, not only do they take our complaints down, because the first thing we do is, when someone complains, we go look at the video, but the other thing is for court," he said, adding the police department's current dash camera system

is routinely accessed for court purposes.

Miller noted the department's current ICOP dash camera system, which is more than a decade old, is now outdated and not functioning as well as it should. It's slated to be replaced with new devices and software provided by Body Worn.

"Basically, the technology went away with our current dash cameras because it was firmware, not software," Miller said of the outdated ICOP.

The incorporation of body cameras makes Scappoose the third law enforcement agency in the county to adopt the technology. The Columbia County Sheriff's Office and St. Helens Police Department already use the cameras.

Body cameras have been adopted increasingly within law enforcement agencies across the country as a way of improving accountability and providing clear video footage of incidents when needed for later review.

Miller said the new body cameras will be Motorola phones that snap into a tactical vest and store recordings to an iCloud-based system, rather than a physical server.

The body cameras will likely be activated by officers anytime they respond to a call, but the cameras also come with automatic activation triggered when an officer is on the ground, throws a punch, is running, or a shot is fired.

Miller said that was a major selling point for him.

"A lot of times, in those quick second decisions, you're not thinking about turning a camera on," Miller noted.

The police chief said the system also allows for remote viewing of camera footage.

"You can pull up when an event takes place and, say there's a shooting, I can pull up or a supervisor can pull up what's happening and watch live," Miller told councilors. "It's pretty impressive."

The new camera systems, which were also recently implemented in Washington County, come with a five-year contract that includes free software updates and coverage of damages.

Miller said he hopes to have the new cameras available to start test-

ing and training within the next month.

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