Some Vancouver Police officers may be wearing body-mounted video cameras while on duty next year, as part of a pilot project to test their usefulness as a policing tool.
An internal report endorsed by Chief Jim Chu that will be considered by the Vancouver Police Board today, says that officers began studying the potential use of the cameras last year and found "numerous benefits related to the use of body-worn video."
The report identified several benefits such as increased transparency, greater officer safety due a reduction in incidents requiring the use of force, and better and additional evidence. The report suggests that a pilot test-run could be in place by mid-2014.
It says that positive experiences with the technology among the Edmonton Police Service, the Victoria Police Department and the Albuquerque Police Department in New Mexico point to the possibility of body-mounted cameras as an effective way to reduce reliance on conflicting accounts of particular events.
The video cameras, which are about the size of a smartphone and are mounted on an officer's left shoulder, have also been tested in Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa. The Los Angeles Police Department are also field-testing 60 cameras this month.
The report notes there are civil liberties concerns, but points out that the American Civil Liberties Association supports the use of video cameras "conditional on a framework which protects the rights of citizens."
The Canadian and B.C. Civil Liberties Associations have not yet released an official position on the technology, the report says.