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Published: Tuesday, 7/17/2012

New cameras to be installed in 5 Oregon police cars


Oregon police vehicles are to get new in-car camera systems.

City council has authorized spending $57,735 in grant money to buy and install the systems in five cars.

Police Sgt. Jason Druckenmiller said the new equipment will produce better resolution and be able to upload its images instantly. With the current equipment, which is about 8 years old, an officer must manually remove the hard drive from the vehicle before viewing the images on it.

In other action last week, council approved a November ballot proposal to double members' term lengths.

The measure would amend the city charter to increase term lengths to four years and stagger the terms. With staggered terms, the entire council would not be up for election or re-election in the same year.

Voters rejected a similar proposal in 1990 and 2002. In 2002, it appeared on the ballot with a host of other proposed amendments to the charter that were defeated, including one that would allow council to meet in executive session for certain matters.

Council elections are next year. The amendment to be considered in November would have the three highest vote-getters elected to four-year terms; the remaining members would serve for two years before becoming eligible to run for four-year terms in 2015.

The measure was approved for the ballot by a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Jerry Peach casting the dissenting vote.

Mr. Peach said the change was unnecessary because the current system works well. Two-year terms, he said, made council members more accountable to the voters.

Mayor Mike Seferian, a former council member, agreed. He said the two-year term favored the public, while the four-year would be to the advantage of council members.

Council President Tom Susor said the change would bring Oregon into conformance with most other city councils.

Councilman Mike Sheehy said four-year council terms would put council on an equal footing with the office of mayor, which has a four-year term.

Councilman Jim Seaman said he was not a strong supporter of four-year terms but believed it was appropriate for the citizens "to vote it up or vote it down."

Council also authorized the sale of bonds to refinance short-term debt including $4,025,000 in bonds with maturities extending 18 years.

Finance Director Kathleen Hufford estimated the interest rate would be 2 to 2.5 percent. The $280,000 annual debt service would come from the city's street fund.

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