Halifax police recommend against body-camera pilot project

Five-year pilot program would involve 50 cameras and cost about $1.4 million a year.

5-year pilot program would involve 50 cameras and cost about $1.4M a year

A new report suggested Halifax Regional Police try a program that would use 50 cameras and could cost $1.4 million annually. (CBC)

Halifax's police chief has recommended against a five-year body camera pilot program.

A new report suggested Halifax Regional Police try a program that would use 50 cameras and could cost $1.4 million annually.

"It is our belief that [body-worn video] does not provide a cost-effective way to improve any of our present practices or processes," Chief Jean-Michel Blais wrote in his information report to Halifax's board of police commissioners.

Body cameras not always helpful

Blais said he was not convinced body cameras worn by police officers are helpful in every situation.

"There is some value," Blais said. "But if you are a member of a marginalized community, how do you feel about coming across a police officer who has a camera on you?"

Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais said he would rather see money used for equipment such as cameras on school buses to catch cars that don't stop when children are getting on and off. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Blais said he would rather spend the money on other high-tech equipment, such as cameras on school buses to catch cars that don't stop when children are getting on and off the bus.

The chairman of Halifax's police commission, Coun. Steve Craig, said he understands that in some situations, body cameras could make things worse.

'Good in certain circumstances'

But Craig said he still thinks the equipment is worth checking out.

"It can be good in certain circumstances," said Craig. "We have to make a decision on whether we want to try it and see what the benefits are."

Halifax regional councillor Steve Craig is the chair of the board of police commissioners. (CBC)

There has been a push for police departments across Canada to use body cameras.

The Toronto Police Service said it wants its officers to wear them, but said the current equipment isn't technologically up to snuff to be useful to the force.

Last year, the RCMP decided not to issue body-worn cameras to its general duty officers over concerns about the durability of the gear and its battery life.

The issue will be further discussed at the December meeting of the police commission.

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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