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Shooting prompts Bend police to reconsider body cameras

Associated Press

BEND, Ore. – Last week’s officer-involved shooting in downtown Bend has the police department reconsidering an earlier decision not to purchase body cameras.

Police Chief Jim Porter told the Bulletin newspaper the department considered the cameras before, but felt the cost of equipment and other expenses was prohibitive.

Porter said falling prices and the shooting of Michael Jacques have prompted the department to take another look at the viability of cameras that are worn by officers and record their daily activities.

The 31-year-old driver was shot and killed during a traffic stop Friday night. A Bend police officer pulled him over after receiving reports of him driving erratically in a Dodge Caravan.

The shooting investigation remains active.

Porter said he initially backed away from using body cameras because the department didn’t have the money for it, and he didn’t see the need.

“I did not feel at the time that we had a culture that needed body cameras,” he said. “We weren’t getting excessive force complaints; we weren’t seeing complaints about officers’ attitudes on the street.”

Porter said the department set aside $40,000 during the 2013-14 budget cycle for body cameras, but then the Oregon Legislature passed regulations as to when the cameras could be turned off, and how the data has to be stored and processed. That greatly increased the cost, Porter said.

“Yes, we are looking at them again,” Porter said. “There’s now much easier software to work with to be able to redact information out of the videos to make it much easier to use.”

Porter and Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel declined comment on whether body camera footage would be helpful in the investigation of Jacques’ death.

Hummel, a former defense attorney, said he has always been in favor of body cameras.

“Having more evidence is always better,” Hummel said.

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