City News

Body cameras for police included in upcoming city budget

Salem police officers will start wearing body cameras if the Salem City Council approves funding for a program on June 28. (Amanda Loman/ Salem Reporter)

The city of Salem is moving forward with equipping police officers with body worn cameras after previous efforts stalled over costs.

On June 28, the Salem City Council will vote on including $816,400 in funding for a body camera program for the Salem Police Department.

That money will cover the first year of implementing the program, which includes equipment, data storage and four non-sworn employees to manage archiving of the large amount of footage it’s expected to generate.

After that, the cost is expected to go down to $630,000 annually.

In May, the Salem Budget Committee recommended a body-worn camera and dash camera program be included in the budget. Earlier efforts to pursue a program stalled because of the hefty price tag.

Last August, the city got quotes from five providers of body-worn cameras and in-car video systems based on outfitting 190 officers and 50 patrol cars.

The average upfront cost for four providers was $455,000, with another $180,000 per year for ongoing maintenance.

Lt. Treven Upkes, Salem police spokesman, said actual cost of the program is still tentative, and the department won’t go out for a bidding process until the council votes to approve the funding.

He said about a half million will go toward purchasing the equipment for all 190 of its officers and the rest will pay for data storage and the salary and benefits of the four additional employees.

Officers responded to 104,240 calls last year which adds up to hours and hours of footage. Upkes said the department doesn’t know how much data storage will cost and where it will be stored until after the bidding process.

He said the department will need a management position, likely in IT, to implement the new program. In addition to that position there would be two evidence technicians and a position to pull video requests and redact sensitive information when the recordings are sought by lawyers or the public.

The Salem Police Department has a $50 million budget for the next fiscal year. 

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

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