By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Bend Police has been approved for a $100,000 expenditure that will allow them to begin testing out the use of body cameras on officers.
“There’s several great products out there, and so we’re going to need to look at all of them to see if it’s going to be the best fit for our department,” Juli McConkey with Bend Police said.
But that money will only cover the cost of the evaluations.
McConkey says that the costs of the cameras themselves will be roughly one million dollars, and doesn’t include the extra staff they’ll need to hire.
With the city of Bend experiencing budget cuts due to COVID-19, there’s no timeline for when getting a body camera program in place is possible.
“This is a good stepping stone and hopefully we’ll be able to implement everybody with body cameras as soon as we get some funding,” McConkey said.
Just a few miles away, the Redmond Police Department is one of the only law enforcement agencies in Central Oregon that equips officers with body cameras.
“It gives transparency both with our department inside and also with our community,” Lt. Jesse Petersen with Redmond Police Department said.
Petersen says they’ve also been beneficial when it comes to criminal and civil cases.
“If somebody doesn’t like how we’ve done our job, made some kind of a complaint or something, we’re able to review that and interact with the community members, be able to show them the video and most times we’re able to resolve those quickly,” Petersen said.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office said they’re also looking to test out body cameras for their department within the next fiscal year.
“That’s going to be hands on the cameras themselves, putting them in the field, trial and error with multiple vendors to determine which product is best for the Sheriff’s Office,” Cpt. Paul Garrison with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.
Bend PD and the DCSO said that while they’ve been looking into getting body cameras for years, current events have made them more important than ever.
“One of the things we base ourselves on is our transparency and I think this just furthers that with the public,” Garrison said.
McConkey says they’ll be able to begin evaluations after the Bend City Council finalizes the city’s budget on June 17th.