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Portland OKs Police Cameras In Old Town Neighborhood

Portland City Council has voted to give police the authority to mount security cameras in the city’s Old Town neighborhood. The debate has raised concerns about civil liberties and privacy. 

Police have already used footage from privately owned cameras in several cases. But Police Chief Mike Reese said on OPB’s Think Out Loud that a new set of cameras installed on private buildings would expand the bureau’s reach in a high-crime area.

“it gives police a good tool to monitor these hotspots, so when we have officers in the area they don’t have to just drive by and see if crime’s occurring,” Reese said. “They can pull it up on their mobile digital computer in the car.”

The ACLU of Oregon and others asked council not to let technology get ahead of privacy concerns.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz was the lone “no” vote. She wanted a report-back requirement on how the cameras are used.

“I do trust our police,” Fritz said. “However, need to make sure we get the transparency and and accountability that enables more folks in the community to know what the police are doing and how they’re doing it.”

The plan will let the police bureau pay for the installation of cameras in private buildings, with the city assuming liability.

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