Only four people attended a 90-minute presentation by Portland police leadership Wednesday to talk about the roll-out of police body cameras and the draft internal department policy that officers will follow with them.

Chief Michael Sauschuck and Assistant Chief Vern Malloch listened to questions and concerns and explained how the department came up with its strategy.

“We’re trying to be upfront in the beginning to say this is not going to solve all the problems,” Sauschuck said. “You’re going to catch some stuff (on cameras), you’re not going to catch some stuff. There will be human error in play. But we’ll do the best we can on the policy side.”

Beginning in April, Sauschuck said he will begin a $26,000, grant-funded pilot program to deploy up to eight cameras on officers in different positions in the department. Among the hurdles to clear was for Sauschuck to get the buy-in from the department’s police union.

The cameras are smaller than a deck of playing cards, will be worn on an officer’s chest and will be used to record most police duties as they interact with the public, investigate crimes and respond to calls, according to the policy.

Other interactions will not be recorded – such as when police are in their locker room or using a bathroom, during personal breaks or during mealtimes, and when police converse with each other or enter a correctional facility, to name just a few.


The city has included roughly $400,000 to buy the equipment for the entire department in the annual capital improvement budget. If city councilors approve the spending, more cameras would show up on the streets by late fall or winter, Sauschuck said.

From the small crowd, Sauschuck heard both criticism and praise.

Anne Haskell, a former state representative from Portland, said she appreciated what she saw as a thoughtful policy process in the face of calls to rush toward implementation. Mayor Ethan Strimling called for an accelerated timetable to implement the cameras after a Portland police officer shot and killed Chance David Baker in February 2017.

“There were lots of calls, ‘lets do it, lets get them in here lets do it right now,’ ” Haskell said. “I appreciate how careful and how thoughtful I think you’ve been in bringing this.

Sauschuck said his team combed through studies, looked at numerous policies from around the country and developed by activist groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, and listened to local groups before drawing up the policy draft.

Still, there were questions and criticism.

Kim Rich, a former candidate for city council, said she was concerned about the long-term costs of storing mounds of video data.

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