The Portland Board of Education voted November 12 to ask Portland Police to have school resource officers (SROs) refrain from using their body cameras until the school district and police can reach an agreement governing the use of the cameras in schools.
As a result of that decision, the Police Department agreed to have SROs at Portland and Deering High Schools hold off from turning on their body worn cameras (BWCs) as the school district and the Police Department work to negotiate an agreement.
The SRO program is almost twenty years old and is governed by a Memo of Understanding (MOU) between the district and police that typically has been renewed automatically at the start of each school year. But since all city patrol officers were recently issued body cameras, Portland Police asked the district to review the MOU to spell out the use of cameras in schools.
Concerns about student privacy were raised, which led the Board on November 12 to vote to hold off on approving a revised MOU until such concerns can be addressed. A key issue is the question of ownership of any video recordings made and whether t hose recordings would be shared with any agency outside of the Portland Police Department. The Portland Public Schools would prefer to be the custodian of the recordings.
Superintendent Xavier Botana said: “The district and police are continuing to work together to find a resolution. Previous MOUs have helped ensure the SRO program builds a positive relationship between law enforcement, students, school administration and staff” he said. “I look forward to revising the MOU to address everyone’s concerns and preserve that positive relationship.”