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In wake of George Floyd death, Bend PD plans to add body cameras

(Update: adding video, comments by Bend, Redmond police)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ ) -- The Bend Police Department is planning to incorporate the use of body cameras to help build transparency between officers and community members when out in the field.

Police Lt. Juli McConkey told NewsChannel 21 Thursday the city manager has set aside $100,000 in reserve funds for initial evaluation and testing. In order to outfit all Bend officers with body cameras, it's expected to cost up to $900,000.

She said the department currently does not have all the funding, and they're in the very early stages of planning.

"Its very important for all agencies to have the body cameras, and hopefully we are able to get them for every officer," McConkey said. "It's not only for officer complaints but also to go to court for evidence as well.”

The Redmond Police Department has been using body camera for about five years now. Lt. Jesse Petersen said the district attorney's office requests footage for almost every case they investigate.

Redmond police supervisors review footage from their officers on a monthly basis. Petersen says the footage is stored for the entire duration of an investigation, and says typically community members request body camera footage a couple times a month.

“Our officers use the body cameras every day," Petersen said. "We actually have them in the vehicles and at the police station. "One of the difficulties that we have had with body camera is like with any technology, if the battery is going to die, or if it’s getting a little older, you've got to be able to replace it."

"So we do have extra body cameras -- that way, if we’re out in the field and one of them ends up no longer working correctly because the battery needs to be replaced or it goes out, we’re able to get some more body cameras," Petersen said.

Earlier story:

City Manager Eric King says they'll seek to avoid layoffs 'as long as possible'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Bend city councilors got an outline Wednesday night of plans for $20 million in budget cuts for 2020-21, but also learned the Police Department will be evaluating and implementing body cameras.

"There's a lot of strong community desire" to make the long-discussed addition happen, City Manager Eric King told councilors.

"We plan to kick-start the project," using money from a Police Department reserve fund, King said. Grants also will be sought, he said, but amid the selection process for a new police chief, the goal for body cams is to "move it quicker."

King told NewsChannel 21 the decision on moving $100,000 from the police reserve fund will be part of the 2020-21 budget adjustments at the city council's June 17 meeting.

"More funding will be needed, but this first $100K will help us scope the project and at least be in a position to apply for grants, etc.," King said.

Some other Central Oregon agencies, including Redmond and Prineville police, Crook County sheriff's deputies and Oregon State Police, have used body and-or dash cameras in recent years, but others have delayed such a move, in part due to issues regarding retaining records, cost and storage.

Word of the quicker pace for body cameras came on a night when city councilors, in a joint statement and later individually, shared their anger and dismay at the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody -- an outcry galvanized by video of the officers' treatment of Floyd. And they vowed to redouble efforts to make Bend a more equitable and inclusive city.

Due to COVID-19-related closures and economic impacts, the city said Wednesday it expects a revenue shortfall this 2019-21 biennium between $7 million and $14.5 million but will seek to avoid layoffs as long as possible, with a hiring freeze and other cuts.

“The city’s revenues come from people in Bend and visitors, and our region has experienced high unemployment, a drop in tourism and business closures,” said City Manager Eric King.

Budget shortfalls could begin affecting the city’s budget this summer. The city of Bend collects different revenues at different times, so the full budgetary impact of COVID-19 on the City of Bend will be unknown for many months. Anticipated citywide revenue shortfalls as of now include:

  • $5.4 million to $11.4 million shortfall from room tax revenues;
  • $400,000 to $1.3 million shortfall from lower property tax collections;
  • $700,000 to $1.2 million shortfall from fines and citations; and
  • $650,000 shortfall from highway gas taxes.

Every city department has analyzed its Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget and proposed reductions up to 10 percent per department.

Proposed cuts include eliminating nearly 40 vacant positions, after the city instituted a hiring freeze when the pandemic hit, as well as reduced contractual services, reduced facility improvements, deferred vehicle and equipment purchases, canceled trainings, reduced or delayed projects and reductions in service levels that do not jeopardize regulatory compliance.

Wednesday evening, the City Council and the Budget Committee discussed the budget reductions. Formal budget adjustments are scheduled for approval in two weeks, on June 17.

“Unlike some segments of the economy that were immediately impacted, the city has time to plan. We are working to avoid layoffs as long as possible, to continue providing core public services with the resources we have,” King said.

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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