Arming Police with Body Cameras

Calgary Police Officers have been using small cameras since November 2012 to capture evidence, enhance officer and public safety and provide transparency. (CBC)


Remember RoboCop? Police forces in a number of countries are embracing the Body Camera. One pilot project shows the use of force by police dropped by 60% with cameras and complaints against them dropped by 88%. As some of Canada's biggest police forces consider the camera, we hear from the supportive and the wary on this technology today.

Many Londoners were extremely unhappy this past week when a jury determined the police shooting of Mark Duggan was a lawful killing. His death two years ago set off one of the biggest riots Britons can remember. The officer who fired the fatal bullet says he acted in self defence. Mr. Duggan's family doesn't believe the official police story -- but there's no video recording of the shooting, so people are likely to remain deeply unsatisfied. But perhaps that won't be the case next time there is a contentious police shooting.

"I do acknowledge that we need to do more to build trust with the people of London. And there are things that we need to learn from this event. First of all, I want our officers to be able to be more open when it comes to the investigations that follow these events. In pursuance of that, we are going to ask them to wear video cams so we can record this type of incident."

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Chief Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police

The police department in Nampa, Idaho, has found many benefits to the body cameras. Craig Kingsbury is the Chief of the Nampa Police Force. He joined us from Nampa, Idaho.

Calgary police already use body cameras. And some officers in Edmonton are participating in a pilot project. Some Canadians hope more police forces will adopt them as well.

"Cameras are an excellent idea. They will definitely make police accountable for their actions. Because right now the police in this province and across Canada are not accountable for their actions. If there had been somebody with a video camera or if the cops had cameras on them, we would have the real evidence. Because in Steve's shooting there was only three witnesses. Steve's dead and the other two are cops".

Norm Dorr's future son-in-law, Steve Mesic was shot and killed by police

Vancouver and Toronto's police forces are considering the wide use of body cameras. It remains an open question whether they will repair public trust as the London Police hope.

Rahel Appiagyei-David teaches community relations and engagement at Sheridan College. She joined us this morning from Brampton, Ontario.

What you think of the idea of police wearing body cameras? Share your thoughts with us.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal, Sarah Grant and Karin Marley.

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