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Government-politics

Split Bend council OKs $1 million for police body cams, calls off motel purchase

(Update: Adding video, more on body cam discussion; hotel deal called off)

Will seek new site for shelter; also gives nod to keeping downtown 'parklets'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A slim majority of Bend city councilors voted Wednesday night to approve a five-year, more than $1 million contract to buy a body camera system from Axon Enterprise Inc.

Police Chief Mike Krantz said while body-worn cameras cannot tell the whole story, they can provide vital information and evidence of what transpires in some situations, assisting in investigations and responding to complaints.

Four councilors voted for the contract -- some reluctantly -- but colleagues Rita Schenkelberg and Megan Perkins abstained. Councilor Barb Campbell was absent.

Councilor Anthony Broadman expressed misgivings about the overall cost diverting funds from hiring another officer or detective, for example, but supported the contract, with reservations.

Broadman said the cameras could be a great tool for defense attorneys and prosecutors, but he did not view them as a fix for police accountability issues nationwide.

Krantz – who was again under fire from several speakers during the visitors’ section of the meeting – said body-worn cameras provide “an additional layer of transparency to our work” and are “likely to resolve complaints faster.”

“Body-worn cameras are a great tool,” he said, but “they never tell the whole story. They can record things officers don’t see, while not recording some things officers might see.”

They also can’t be on 24/7, Krantz said, noting that state law and best practices dictate their mandatory activation in nine incidents or situations, such as when there’s reasonable suspicion or probable cause of a crime, in all enforcement and investigative contacts, as well as traffic contacts and “instance of force or forced entry by law enforcement,” to document searches and “if a contact becomes adversarial.”

But state law also directs they not be activated when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy or interactions that could contain protected medical or health information.” The recordings are governed by state public records statutes.

Bringing up two controversial, high-profile events last year, Krantz said the policies mean officers aren’t “just rolling the camera because something was going on,” so the ICE bus protest last summer “might not have had much footage” – but with regards to the confrontation near Pilot Butte in October, “there was a lot of crimes (with) suspected probable cause. That likely would have had much more video footage available.”

In general, he said, video from protests or similar events are “always going to be confusing,” he said, with “a lot going on,” so along with citizen videos, body cameras could provide a valuable perspective.

Councilor Melanie Kebler said body cam footage is “extremely helpful” evidence in cases of domestic violence, “instead of having to reconstruct that (information) from written reports.”

Mayor Sally Russell said the cameras are a tool with “a lot of guidelines, a lot of boundaries. We also know people’s memories are not always perfect in a moment when they are under extreme stress or duress.” She said police can use the evidence “to treat people more fairly, a little more accurately. We’ll see how it goes for five years. You've done your due diligence.”

Councilors also discussed and and gave informal approval for continuing added outdoor dining and retail space known as 'parklets' in downtown Bend.

'Parklets,' added last June amid COVID-19 restrictions, convert curbside areas and parking spaces into for commercial restaurant or retail use.

Under the city's current COVID-19 state of emergency declaration -- extended Wednesday night through June 30 -- the "parklets" are allowed to provide added space for restaurants and retail uses who are under capacity limits.

But city Parking Services Manager Tobias Marx said he believes they should stay in place downtown.

Marx says they provide another way for downtown businesses to continue serving residents safely while distancing and capacity requirements are in effect.

He added that they can also help "re-spur" much needed economic recovery during and after the pandemic.

"The parklets are great, they're attractive, and they're well-received by the public," Marx said. "They can draw new crowds and different people into the downtown district, and when they do so, they also help us expose other businesses to these people that are coming."

City Licensing Program Manager Lorelei Williams says the positives have outweighed the negatives so far, with parklets generating 30% of revenue for some businesses.

"We've had a very minimal amount of complaints from the public," Williams said. "But we have heard some concern from adjacent and nearby business owners." 

City staff is suggesting using a thorough application process for the parklets, with a permit center, city review and inspections.

Should the city adopt new code language, business owners would pay for an annual license, with safety and design requirements in place.

Williams said if the program proves to be successful longer-term, they would like to eventually expand to other districts and neighborhoods, after an evaluation in the spring of 2022.

Near the end of the meeting, councilors directed city staff to terminate a purchase and sale agreement with Old Mill & Suites, located at 904 SE Third Street, and instead pursue alternative motel property options for providing temporary transitional housing for the community.

The city was considering the purchase of the motel through Project Turnkey, a state-funded grant program that is converting motels to shelters around the state.

The decision came near the end of a feasibility period for the purchase and sale agreement, set to expire Friday. Inspections by city staff and others determined the building would not be suitable for the project.

With the termination of the agreement, council directed staff to begin pursuing and evaluating other hotel properties that meet the criteria for Project Turnkey.

“We continue to be committed to finding a property that could be eligible for Project Turnkey funding,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Gena Goodman-Campbell. “We need to take advantage of funding opportunities like this to provide much-needed shelter options for our unhoused community members.”

For more information on Project Turnkey and the city’s efforts to address homelessness in Bend, visit www.bendoregon.gov/homelessness.

Bend / Central Oregon / Crime And Courts / News / Top Stories
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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.

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Comments

30 Comments

    1. Good thing body cameras are more important than transitional housing. Can we defund the scumbag bend police yet? Their budget is already way too high at is for what they do (nothing besides harass homeless people downtown)

  1. If they keep eliminating downtown parking (as this does) there won’t be a downtown. If I owned anything downtown other than a restaurant I’d be angry. Are these businesses paying rent to the tax paying citizens of Bend? Actually they probably shouldn’t, why be treated any differently than the homeless. Just another handout.

    1. Yes there is a separate downtown association levy, not sure if its an official tax or just a voluntary fee… but who do you think pays for all those flower boxes and “welcome tourists” banners you see there?

    2. The city can get federal funding to construct a two to three story deep parking structure where the current above ground parking lot is at Brooks and Franklin. Then build a two story building above it with business on street floor and one of kind condos on second over looking the river. Then shut off parking in the area downtown in the district from River to Bond and Franklin to Greenwood, essentially a nine block walking only zone (no bikes, scooter or skateboards also it permitted). Parking at new parking structure by the hour and local businesses in this zone can validate with a minimum purchase. Problem solved (tho digging in C.O. rock will be hard).

    3. Count me in the angry Downtown owner category. The City representatives on the Zoom call clearly came in with an agenda to move this forward last night. They even joked about accidentally leaving in their Powerpoint proposal the option to discontinue the program after pandemic restrictions are lifted. There was no sense of “let’s look at both sides, gather more info, and make an informed decision. that’s best for everyone” All I heard was “I talked to some people and they’re all for it.”

  2. So Boardman thinks the cams are a good tool for defense attorneys and prosecutors but may not be a fix for police accountablity nationwide. Did anyone let him know that these cams are for the Bend police only? I guess he thinks he is paying a mil for cops nationwide. Who elected this guy?

  3. Also I heard the city staff rejected the Old Mill Suites because the indoor swimming pool was too small to accomodate the homeless population that would be placed there.

  4. in a month or 6 weeks weather should be perking up at this time of the night. Seen the shelter on 2nd street is closed now that we’re in the 40s at night but was kinda surprised at how many tents are lined up on the dirt road leading to behind les schwabs

  5. Council person Barbara Campbell, identified by the Bend Police Department in its August 25, 2020 after action report as deliberately using her personal vehicle to block one of two buses being used to transport the legally arrested suspected apprehended in Bend on August 12, 2020, should resign from the city council and do so immediately.

    Or perhaps face a recall effort?

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/central-oregon-peacekeepers-bear-responsibility-ice-riot-greg-walker/?trackingId=HbBk02DnR%2B6i2jJzC5lZxw%3D%3D

    That said, Chief Mike Krantz is correct in his assessment that having had body cameras, or mobile recording equipment (MRE) as such equipment is properly known as, his officers on the perimeter of what became the ICE riot would have captured very little. However, the UAV drone footage BPD captured of the riot, as well as the two ARLO cameras BPD placed on the roof of the Springhill Suites along with its observer team, likely captured a great deal…to include Barbara Campbell’s interfering with federal law enforcement officers (USC 18, .111).

    And finally, a Bend city council holds its collective nose and votes to fund MRE for the Bend Police Department. It was never so much as BPD not looking to expand in this area as it was the City of Bend not wanting to cough up the “dough” for it to do so.

    1. Mr. Cardiac Spike, you have publicly stated that racist comments (including anti-Latinx) that you posted on your old FB page were an understandable lapse in your own judgment–and should be excused. It does not appear you extend the same degree of mercy to others that you give yourself. The nonviolent actions of Councilor Campbell and 100’s of others who participated in the bus blockade came as a result of years of Trump’s use of ICE as his own personal Gestapo. The two men who were to be carried to detention by the two large buses were living here lawfully under local and State judicial conditions; they were not fugitives, in fact they were gainfully employed in our community. One of the men has since been released. The ICE bus blockade was not a riot; it was a peaceful nonviolent protest in the tradition of American civil disobedience going back to Thoreau’s refusal to pay taxes to support the war against Mexico, the women’s suffrage movement, the American labor movement, the civil rights movement, the voting rights movement, the gay rights movement, etc., etc. If you wish to start a recall campaign against Campbell, you will need to find someone who is actually a resident of Bend to sign the paperwork and prepare the petitions. Looking forward to your next dispatch from the Police State.

  6. Bend is now a tax and spend liberal city whose once quaint center core is surrounded by suburbs and congestion and enveloped with arcane rules.The outskirts are loaded with tweakers and transients who are regarded as are rescue dogs.

  7. And here’s what MRE, or “body cameras”, provide and don’t provide.

    Kudos to Sheriff Shane Nelson at DCSO for providing the briefings he did for interested parties such as the Central Oregon Black Leadership Assembly and the local media with this and more information about its MRE system.

    According to the DCSO briefing on its body and vehicle camera system, correctly titled as mobile recording equipment (MRE) the purpose and objective of the system is to enhance Public trust and safety, promote the Safety of its deputies and the Public, improve accuracy, and preserve information.

    MRE audio and video provides important information but it must also be considered with all other available evidence. The Sheriff’s Office MRE package and policies, procedures, and training follows Oregon Revised Statutes.

    MRE may capture something the wearer did not see or hear, or the wearer may see or hear something the MRE did not capture. Video and audio cannot capture tactile responses that a deputy may feel, such as tensing of muscles or body.

    MRE recordings cannot capture the psychological phenomena that the wearer may experience during a high-stress situation (i.e., “tunnel vision, auditory exclusion).

    And the key policy points at DCSO regarding use of the MRE include the deputy must record all public demand, community initiated, and self-initiated calls for service involving contact with community members; this includes but is not limited to traffic stops, field interviews, searches and community-policing contacts; Deputies will verbally advise contacts that the conversation is being recorded at the beginning of the contact, or as soon as reasonable.

    MRE will not be used to intimidate any person or to discourage them from observing DCSO activities, making inquiries or complaints. DCSO deputies will not edit, alter, erase video or audio recordings nor do they have the ability to do so.

    When/if a deputy believes the use of MRE would impede or limit the cooperation of a suspect, victim or witness during an investigative contact in their public safety response, the deputy may use her/his discretion regarding activation of the camera. One example would be the victims of domestic violence who are ashamed, embarrassed, or fearful of being recorded both visually and on audio. Also, situations requiring immediate action where it is either unsafe or impractical to activate the MRE. In such cases the deputy will do so when the immediate threat has been addressed and it is safe for the deputy and the Public to activate her/his body cam.

    DCSO has purchased the MRE equipment for each of its patrol cars and is equipping each car, a process that requires expertise and time, so that, for example, the MRE in the vehicle will self-activate as well as activate the deputy’s body camera when she/he leave the vehicle. This allows for both a redundant recording system; a second camera that may capture information the deputy’s body camera might not; and adds to the safety of the deputy as she/he will not have to be distracted under a high stress situation to manually turn on her/his body camera.

    Sheriff Nelson ensured several Zoom briefings were held for the media and others to reflect this and additional information for the record.

    Perhaps soon Chief Mike Krantz at Bend PD will do the same? He could likewise provide insight on how his agency uses its UAV platform for recording events like the August 12, 2020, ICE riot in Bend, and its ARLO cameras which were also used that day.

  8. I like the idea of the body cams but that much money? Just how many cameras are there? just sounds like a lot of money…

    good decision on the motel….

  9. The permanent elimination of any of the free two-hour downtown street parking spots seems so unfair to other businesses that need parking spaces for their customers. They pay high rents and downtown fees and now tons of store front parking spots are going to the restaurants added square footage. It also forces more people to have to pay and park in the parking garage which was almost already at full capacity before Covid. How is this sustainable once life and business starts to get back to normal? It is fine now while we are still under Covid restrictions but once the restrictions are over the parking spaces should go back to being accessible to and for all of the businesses.

    1. “It is fine now while we are still under Covid restrictions but once the restrictions are over the parking spaces should go back to being accessible to and for all of the businesses.” – Bingo

  10. Not that anyone in charge is interested in actual data but here’s one piece to toss around: The city of Vancouver, WA did a parking study and determined, based on the daily parking spot turnover (Bend’s turn is actually 40% higher) and average sales generated by each visit, that the removal of a downtown parking spot took away 53k in annual revenue from Downtown businesses. Currently there are about 20 spots used for parklets with the plan for up to 90 in the near future. Even with the current situation that’s over 1 million dollars in sales revenue sucked away from retailers. Except, in this case, it’s not going away, it’s just being shunted to a select group of bars and restaurants. As always, follow the money…

    https://www.cityofvancouver.us/sites/default/files/fileattachments/city_center_redevelopment_authority/page/21018/parkingservicesfactsheet.pdf

    1. Here is to hoping that Bend’s parking planning manager, Tobias Marx, looks at all sides of this situation before moving forward with the permanent “parklets”. And hopefully he considers this study and dollars that will potentially be lost for some downtown businesses. Long term “parklets” just do not make sense for the greater good of Bend’s downtown!

      1. Well, he was the person making the pro-parklet presentation to the Council so I wouldn’t count on any of the consideration you mentioned from his end.

  11. For years, former Bend PD chief BLOCKED the effort to have officers wear body cams. It was never about budget, the department had the money. It was more important to spend money on SWAT. There were also numerous grants available. It was always about controlling the narrative during use of force incidents. You can creatively edit reports to justify force when there is no contradictory video evidence. Think the last three officer involved shootings in Bend. They were controversial enough without video. Think of what the video would have shown. Departments like Redmond, Prineville, Warm Springs have had body cams for YEARS. Explain that?

  12. It sounds like the hotel owner did not contribute to the correct campaigns last fall.

    Wisdom would have made clear that you pay them all off, just a little bit. $10k to each campaign might have sealed the deal for the new council. They have not been there long enough to demand six figure payoffs.

    Let’s see what they buy and how many contributions to their campaigns the owner makes. Let the games begin.

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