Axios Portland

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😌 Good morning, Wednesday. We're glad you're here with us.

Today's weather: Rain returns. High 52, low 39.

Today's newsletter is 626 words — a 2.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Police body cams coming this summer

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

In two months, Portland Police Bureau officers will finally begin wearing body cameras, over a decade after the Justice Department told the bureau to implement them.

Why it matters: Portland is one of the last cities of its size to roll out body cameras to its police force, even after other, smaller law enforcement agencies in Oregon have done so.

  • The devices offer full-time transparency and accountability, proponents argue.

Context: The city began exploring body cameras in 2014, two years after the DOJ settled a lawsuit with the bureau over its alleged use of excessive force against people with mental illnesses. But a yearslong dispute between the police union and city attorneys over the policies governing the use of the cameras ultimately delayed rollout.

  • Negotiations ended last year with an agreement that officers must tell internal investigators what happened before they can review body cam footage of incidents involving the use of force.

The latest: The public will see body cameras on police starting in June, bureau spokesperson Terri Wallo Strauss told Axios. The implementation phase was originally slated to begin in April.

  • Members of the bureau's Central Precinct will be the first to don the devices. A two-month pilot involving 150 officers from that precinct ended in October.

Zoom in: "We are starting with the officers who participated in the pilot, as that will be easier for them to implement," Strauss said.

  • By August, all officers in each of the city's three precincts — a total of over 800 — will be equipped with cameras.

By the numbers: In December, the city council approved $10 million to fund the body cam program for five years.

What we're watching: The city and the police union are still finalizing the body cam policies. Whether that process will include community feedback remains to be seen.

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2. 💪 Oregon No. 3 in electing women to city office

Women as a share of municipal officeholders
Data: Rutgers; Map: Axios Visuals

Oregon has the third-highest percentage in the nation of elected women in city government, according to a new report from Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics

By the numbers: About 43% of Oregon's municipal officeholders are women, compared to 32% nationwide.

  • The study looked at city council members, mayors and other officials of cities and towns with populations greater than 10,000.
  • Oregon ranks third overall, with Colorado (46%) at the top and Nevada second (44%).

Zoom in: The Portland City Council has one woman, Carmen Rubio, who is running for mayor this year.

  • The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners consists of four women and one man (who was hand-picked when his female predecessor quit to run for the U.S. Congress).

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3. Rose City Rundown

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Narcotics officers led by Portland police seized more fentanyl in the last three months — nearly 23 pounds — than they did in all of 2023.

  • Law enforcement escalated their efforts during the tri-government, 90-day fentanyl emergency declared in January. (Willamette Week)

🎭 PRAx, an arts center funded by philanthropist Patricia Reser of the Reser's Fine Foods family, will open Saturday on Oregon State University's campus in Corvallis. (Portland Tribune 🔐)

🏞️ Permits for overnight hiking and camping in Central Oregon's Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness areas went live yesterday. The new requirement aims to reduce overcrowding. (OPB)

🏆 Gregory Gourdet's Kann nabbed another accolade, this time as one of Food & Wine's top 20 restaurants in the country. (The Oregonian)

4. 📷 1 photo to go: Eastbank Esplanade

Portland's skyline at dawn yesterday, from the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. Photo by Joseph Gallivan/Axios

Seen from the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, downtown Portland looks splendid at dawn.

Reality check: As OPB pointed out, just in March, two people died after being assaulted on the esplanade, in what the police said were unrelated attacks.

  • Another man, a 73-year-old who was fishing, had his arm broken by a random assailant with a large stick.

Yesterday, however, it was peaceful, with a jogger and a cyclist passing periodically.

😩 Meira is struggling to sit down after her first workout at Barry's.

🌖 Joseph is gonna work right through the eclipse.

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Steven Patrick and Anjelica Tan.