Police agencies across the United States use body camera technology. The Portland Police Bureau isn’t one of them, but it’s hoping to change that and is asking for the community’s help in creating a policy.

PPB hosted its first of three town halls Saturday at the East Portland Community Center. The town halls are open to community members to share their comments on body camera technology.

Only about a handful of people showed up at the community center to talk with PPB officers and employees, but conversations spanned a multitude of topics such as when cameras should be activated, who should view the footage and how long that footage should be stored.

PPB says it will be taking these community comments into consideration when creating its body camera policy.

The community forums are the first step in a phased implementation, said PPB program manager Tammy Mayer.

Once PPB receives public comments and builds its policy, it’ll be sent out for public comment again for revisions. After that, it will go to Portland City Council in a report to get confirmation, then PPB could move forward with a pilot program — actually testing out different cameras.

It’s a bit of an aggressive timeline, Mayer said, but she hopes for body cameras to be deployed by October 2020.

Mayer said other regional agencies such as Beaverton Police, Portland State University Police and the Oregon State Police have already been using the technology, but, she said, she thinks it’s a benefit that Portland has waited a little longer.

“We wanted to see how they were working in other agencies,” Mayer said. “By waiting a couple extra years we didn’t have to go through the same trials and tribulations that some of those first adopters did.”

She also said it was important to PPB to consider the community’s viewpoints.

“I don’t think a lot of police agencies did the community engagement piece first,” Mayer said. “They thought it was the right thing and they did it and they just kind of told people they were doing it. That’s not the way Portland does things.”

Mayer said, along with with community body cam town halls, PPB has already talked with other specific communities such as the Muslim Advisory Council, the Slavic Advisory Council and the Community Peace Collaborative.

The two additional public town halls are Friday, Feb. 22, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the Matt Dishman Community Center and Thursday, Feb. 28, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., location to be determined. 

Those who can’t make it out to public meetings can leave online feedback here.