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Readers react to police POV surveillance video debate

Categories: Canada, Community, Science & Technology

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The RS3-SX body worn video camera by Reveal Media is being used in trial studies in Edmonton, Alta. and Amherstburg, Ont. (Integrys/Reveal Media)

After a video showing the fatal shooting of Sammy Yatim by police on a Toronto streetcar went viral this week, the use of surveillance videos and the role they could play in the police force has become a topic for discussion.  An online feature on the subject provoked debate in the CBC Community.

Police services in some major cities around the world, including some in Canada, have equipped officers with portable recording devices in hopes that they can contribute  video evidence of a situation that might fall under scrutiny.

The body-worn video cameras (BWV) allow for incidents to be seen from the vantage point of an officer on the scene.

Though many CBC readers agree that BWVs are a good idea, the application of this tactic might only be good in writing. 

  • "In the UK cameras are everywhere. The police even have a network that they monitor that pretty well sees everything. They are the most watched society on Earth. It helps, but eventually there is too much footage to be monitored," wrote Allan.

  • "I think that cameras would be a good thing. And, when they are implemented I hope that police regularly release video of the abuse that I strongly suspect these officers take from people on a daily basis," wrote fred9972.

  • "As anyone keeping track of these stories knows an officer's memory of events often does not reflect the version of reality offered by video. The tendency to fit the truth in one's own favour is a human flaw we all must live with. I support a system of video surveillance of police actions and believe it would lead to better policing practices and better protection of the public," suggested brian.

The community also expressed  distrust and cynicism from those beyond the border of the thin blue line. 

  • "The cameras only work if both the public and the police have access to them. If only the police have access to their own cameras for review when something bad happens, then nothing will change. People should continue to use their cell phone cameras to record police. After all, they work for us, and as their employers we have every right to gather evidence of wrong doing," wrote GeckoX. 

  • "I don't think they will help because Police officers will be the ones who have control over whether the video is seen or not. If they think /know they acted inappropriately, the video will go missing, or they will claim that t he camera malfunctioned," wrote YesOuiCan.

And, the considerable price tag is a sticking point with some readers.

  • "How many of these expensive units would be wrecked every day, by either criminals or corrupt cops?" asked Tom Forsythe.

  • "Again spending our tax money on new overpriced technologies and you can't pay for the simple things like paving, bridge repair, garbage and etc. The public can get a good video camera and go mountain climbing, ride a motorcycle, go for a walk and record it all, for 2 or 3 hundred dollars less. Yet a camera for the police is $700 to $1200. And, there's a reason for the extra cost. Taxpayer dollars," wrote gs1000s.

The real-world application of these devices seems to pose a few problems for practical CBC readers.

  • "How much equipment can an officer carry?" asked LincolnBobinkon.

  • "Unfortunately body-worn cameras will not change the end result. Better police training, technology like rubber bullets and bean bag guns, and the old-fashioned way of talking someone down will be a lot more effective," suggested webman.

How do you feel about your local police force implementing this technology? 

Tags: Community, Community Reaction

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