The takeaway? A body-worn camera program would be costly but a worthwhile investment.
“This wasn’t exhaustive research into what it is that we would be doing here, this was more of an opportunity … to see roughly what something like this would cost for planning purposes,” Sheriff Chuck Atkins told the Clark County Council at a presentation Wednesday. “But I’ll be honest with you, I have no problem with body-worn camera programs myself, but it isn’t high on my priority of budget items. And so, this isn’t something that I’m presenting it right now expecting you to make a decision in this budget cycle to try to implement.
“This is driven by our desire to preplan, get this information on the radar screen, because you know we could have a big incident tomorrow that our community does want to try body-worn cameras immediately or our state legislators decide that the state will have body-worn cameras. Hopefully, this will help us to jump-start that process and be kind of ready if that were to happen,” he said.
Use-of-force incidents and police body-worn cameras have been hot topics of discussion in other parts of the state and country, Atkins said. Those discussions are also happening here, following four officer-involved shootings by Vancouver police earlier this year.
So when an intern became available through Portland State University’s Hatfield School of Government Fellowship Program, the sheriff’s office wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to explore a body-worn camera program.