Below is text taken from a petition started by Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails. Please sign and share it (link is below above the narrative):
We the undersigned, as concerned and proud citizens of Salem, Oregon, are sending this letter to demand the mandatory usage of body and dashboard cameras by the Salem Police Department and all law enforcement departments that respond to calls within city and county limits. We recognize, as a law-abiding society, that policing forces are, within specific parameters and situations, a necessary part of the fabric of that society. However, like any other member of society, police must be accountable to their neighbors for their actions. We demand that the men and women of the police force not be placed above that social tenet; they must be accountable for their actions. They must adhere to a standard of professionalism and humanity, and we, the people who employ them, must have the tools to hold them to that standard. For too long in the history of our country, the police have been the enforcers of laws that they do not themselves obey. For too long, they have relied on the power of their word, as uniformed officers, to hold more weight in the courts of law and public opinion than that of other citizens. Now is the time to begin to heal the deep wounds of distrust that have been created by this inequity.
We know that the usage of body and dashboard cameras will not fix the generational anger that members of our community feel when they are unfairly profiled by the police, or when we see that yet another life has been taken by brutal police action. Nor will the cameras prevent the majority of those acts from occurring. But the cameras do give all citizens a tool to ensure that fact and truth remain inseparable. Body cameras provide an enhanced possibility of justice for all, a perfect concept as yet unrealized, and as proud Americans we must never stop striving to reach that lofty ideal.
With that goal in mind, we demand a mandate for police use of body and dashboard cameras that includes, but is not limited to, the following provisions:
— Immediate suspension of any officer who turns off their camera while on duty, pending the completion of an investigation and review by Internal Affairs, the Human Rights Commission and the Community Police Review Board.
— A requirement that body and dashboard cameras be active at all times while an officer is on duty or the police vehicle is occupied.
— A requirement that archived footage must be saved indefinitely and remain reviewable via public records requests.
— Whistleblower protection, including anonymity and departmental transfer as required, for any officer who reports the misconduct of fellow officers.
— A guarantee that funding for cameras will come from within the existing police budget, and that all future budgets will include funds for upkeep, replacements, and other tools to strengthen Senate bill 1604 and House bills 4205, 4207, and 4208.
— A requirement for ongoing sensitivity and de-escalation training, as well as a commitment to redirect funds to the creation of a more robust mental health crisis response program, to address the root of the problem that necessitates the usage of body cameras.
This mandate will be only the first of many steps that must be taken in order to form a holistic, community-focused, preventative-driven model of community safety. We must be better. We must be more compassionate. We must do all we can to continue forming that more perfect union our founders willed into existence.
With hope and determination,
the citizens of Salem