Toronto Police embracing body camera initiative

May 27, 2015

This month, some police officers in Toronto began wearing body cameras. The controversial pilot program has been in the works for more than a year.

One-hundred officers will take part in the year-long pilot project, testing out three different types of body cameras all at a cost of about a half-million dollars. The officers will be required to switch on the cameras before any interaction with the public and they will have to inform people they are being recorded.

It's an initiative designed to promote transparency and safety for police officers, as well as members of the public. All video and audio data will be be uploaded to a central server at police headquarters and stored for a year.

Most police officers and their union support the project. They say it's a tool that will reduce stress and make their jobs safer.
 
"I think it's a great idea. I think it's fabulous. I want you to be able to see what I'm doing every day and [ask], what would you have done in this scenario?," said one officer.
 
Police union representative Mike McCormack says with all the cell phone videos out there, police are already used to being videotaped. His concern is that the cameras might be used as a management tool to spy on the officers.

Other concerns come from Ontario's privacy commissioner, Brian Beamish.
 
"These cameras, by their nature, will be potentially collecting a lot of personal information. So there needed to be very clear rules on when these cameras will be deployed. When are they turned on and when are they turned off?," said Beamish.
 
Similar initiatives have been undertaken in the U.S., where police have been involved in several recent shootings.