(Update: Adding video, comments)
Krantz calls them a key tool, but adds: 'They don't tell the whole story'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- On Wednesday evening, a split Bend City Council approved a 5-year, $1 million contract to purchase a body-worn camera system for the police department.
Police Chief Mike Krantz told councilors the cameras add “an additional layer of transparency to our work” and are “likely to resolve complaints faster.”
But Krantz also said they are just one piece of the law enforcement puzzle.
"They never tell the whole story. They are two-dimensional video devices that don't record some things officers do see at the time," Krantz said. "They also record things that officers may not see at the time."
Although they cannot be turned on 24/7, there are certain mandatory activation situations, under state law and policy, including enforcement or investigative contacts, forced entry, or calls that involve mentally ill or suicidal individuals.
State law also directs deactivation when there is an interaction that could contain protected medical or health information.
City Councilor Anthony Broadman, who voted a reluctant yes for the body cams contract, says all signs point to departments having this technology nationwide.
"First off, I think all police departments and sheriff's departments are going to moving toward using body cams," Broadman said Thursday. "So it's somewhat academic if we do it now or in the future."
Broadman does have his reservations, however.
"Body cams are a small part of leveling up," Broadman said.
His focus is on more than just cameras.
"When you're on camera, whether you're a criminal suspect or somebody interacting with police or a police officer, maybe you'll act differently," Broadman said. "But I'm much more focused on training and hiring the right people."
Broadman says he wants to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used effectively, and hopes this city council eventually creates a program similar to CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) in Eugene, so law enforcement can focus their attention on what's best for the community.
CAHOOTS is a mobile crisis intervention team integrated into the public safety system of the cities of Eugene and Springfield.
Bend police will host a virtual community forum in early May to answer public questions about the body-worn camera equipment.
The final purchase and implementation of the system is set to take place this summer.