BEND, OR -- Police body cameras have been in the spotlight, lately, whether it’s catching officers behaving badly elsewhere in the country, or local agencies dropping camera programs in light of a new state law. But, Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says it’s technology his department won’t be using anytime soon. "We had looked into body cameras because you always want to be aware of the options that are out there. But, the body cam issue in the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office came down to: we try to be as transparent as we can be and we have an excellent working relationship with the citizens we serve. We do hold ourselves accountable and we very much know the citizens who pay their tax dollars hold us accountable. I felt that sometimes body cameras don’t necessarily tell the whole story."
Sheriff Nelson tells KBND it also came down to the cost. "I think there’s a little more research that can be done as far as fiscal responsibility. In looking at deploying body cameras, there’s a cost associated with that. The new law wants certain people’s faces blurred out, wants certain things redacted. If we’re mandated we will; however, I don’t believe we need them right now. And, that’s because of the relationship we have with the people we serve."
As head of Central Oregon's largest law enforcement agency, he says he could change his mind. But for now, "It wasn’t a mandate. We didn’t feel it was a benefit for the cost right now. Now, being in the public eye, you will always get complaints that come into the office. However, right now we have a process in place for vetting those complaints out. We take a look at every single complaint we get. We’ve never run into an issue trying to resolve a complaint we get."