Ore. fire depts. want body cameras for protection

Firefighters have been harassed and spat on while responding to fire and medical calls

WOLF CREEK, Ore. — Wolf Creek Fire Department launched a fundraising campaign to purchase 10 body cameras to document and discourage assault and harassment of firefighters.

Wolf Creek Fire Chief Steve Scruggs said the cameras would help deter incidents of confrontation, vandalism and harassment. Scruggs said he’s been assaulted twice in the last year and a half, and only a few weeks ago had a firefighter spat on.

Several fire associations in Oregon said they were unaware of any other department using body cameras. 

The cameras would cost a total of $2,750, store 18 hours of video, 28,000 photos and 180 hours of audio.

“I think it’s a way to navigate the problem without somebody getting hurt,” Scruggs told the Mail Tribune.  

The chief said he believes the department is being targeted due to it’s tough stance on illegal fire activity.  

The sleeper station is one of two places that uses cameras, a move the chief said was spurred by videotaping a group of individuals trespassing on a off limits bridge.

The chief expressed concern over people listening to dispatch calls and showing up to a scene solely to cause problems, making it difficult to properly and safely respond to a call. 

“We can take care of the patient, or we can take care of the crowd,” Scrugg said. 

Officials said body cameras for firefighters could serve as a deterrent for harassment and assault as well as provide evidence for law enforcement. Chief Scrugg said he’s seen rowdy crowds disperse when they realized he was recording them on a handheld camera. 

“If we’re investigating a crime, then more evidence will help us,” Lt. Bill Fugate said. 

Donations can be made here.

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