Monday, September 22, 2014

Toronto Police to test body-mounted cameras

TORONTO - Some Toronto Police officers will be donning body-mounted cameras as part of a pilot project beginning as early as November.

Canada’s largest municipal police organization is in the process of choosing a supplier. Once a vendor is chosen, the service plans on purchasing 100 cameras for use in four locations across Toronto for a year-long period.

The use of body-worn cameras usually results in fewer complaints about officers and “less violence,” Deputy Chief Peter Sloly said Monday.

“The general research is the body-worn camera modifies the behaviour of the police officer and the member of the public — it’s a two-way street,” he said. “It is protecting their cops against malicious investigations, it modifies the behaviour of the person they’re dealing with, it provides best evidence in cases.”

The TAVIS rapid response team, a yet-to-be-identified area of traffic services, 43 Division’s community response unit, and 55 Division’s primary response unit will all be a part of the pilot project.

Body-worn cameras were recommended in a February review by Chief Bill Blair as well as in a July report by retired Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci. Similar cameras have been tested in Calgary, Edmonton, and Victoria, B.C.

Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack cautioned body cameras are not a “magic pill” to cure policing. Other changes could have a broader impact, he said.

“We’ve been advocating for years for officers on the front line to have access to Tasers, for instance,” McCormack said.

“We want to ensure that any type of pilot project, the cost-benefit analysis is looked at, and that there is strong policy and procedure around the use of lapel cameras and what the intended use is going to be,” he added.

The Special Investigations Unit — a provincial watchdog that probes death or serious injuries in incidents involving cops — noted that “video recordings from body-worn cameras will on occasion doubtless prove a valuable source of information to the SIU as it would with any investigative agency.”
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