Fri February 21, 2014
Toronto police experiment with body cameras
Police forces in the U-S, Britain and Canada have experimented with the use of body worn video cameras. And they have the support of civil libertarians. Now, police in Toronto will roll out a pilot project this year to test the use of body worn cameras on all front-line officers.
A U-S study found that use of force incidents dropped by as much as 60 percent when police officers wore body cameras. In addition complaints against police officers fell by nearly 90 percent. Law enforcement agencies across Canada are already experimenting with their use. In addition to Toronto they've been tested in Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver.
They were so successful in Calgary that the city plans to expand the use of body cameras across the force.
Toronto's deputy police chief Peter Sloly, the research on the use of body cameras is fairly conclusive.
"It reduces complaints, because yes, it does affect the officer's behavior. But it also affects the community member's behavior that they're dealing with," Sloly said.
Sloly admits there are several issues yet to be worked out, including policy, I-T and budget issues.
Toronto's force has faced criticism in recent months. A review a year ago was sparked by concern about bias in police street checks. And a coroner's inquest into the deaths of three mentally ill people who were shot and killed by police was followed by a recommendation that Toronto police adopt the body cameras.
The Police association is more cautious, saying that money is so tight, that the costs of the body cameras must bear out their use.