Toronto police to begin wearing body cameras

Sep 30, 2014

A pilot project is set to begin for police in Toronto. Advocates say body cameras could improve police accountability and reduce the use of force.

The main details are still being ironed out, such as where the cameras will be worn, when they will record and what the final costs will be. But by mid-December, 100 police officers in four areas of downtown Toronto will be sporting the cameras.

The requests for a supplier and the necessary software have already gone out and, for the most part, the debate over concerns about their use has been put on hold. Even senior police officers say the cameras will protect good police officers and citizens, but will also identify the bad conduct of others.

Still, front line officers will need some convincing. Their union, the Toronto Police Association wants to see policies for the implementation of the cameras,  when they are going to be used and assurances this would not be a kind of "Big Brother" surveillance.  

There is also the question of the privacy rights of citizens. A recent review suggested that body cameras reduce the number of complaints against police, in part because officers are more inclined to treat people more respectfully and individuals less inclined to bring false allegations against police.

A study in Britain found an 88 percent decline in the number of complaints against police and use of force by police was down by 60 percent.

Toronto is one of four Canadian cities to join other police forces including New York and California to test the cameras.