Manitoba

Police body camera program on chopping block, Scott Gillingham says

​A Winnipeg city councillor wants to axe a planned project that would have police officers wear body cameras.

Coun. Scott Gillingham wants to eliminate body camera program for Winnipeg police to prevent layoffs

Officer body cameras like this one, worn by an officer in Calgary, were supposed to be attached to some Winnipeg Police Service officers this year as part of a pilot project. (CBC)

A Winnipeg city councillor wants to axe a planned project that would have police officers wear body cameras.

The planned pilot program was supposed to launch this year to determine the feasibility of arming the entire force with the small cameras.

Other Canadian police forces in cities like Calgary and Edmonton have already been using the cameras for years.

On Monday, in the face of a city budget increase that the service says isn't enough to prevent cadet layoffs, Coun. Scott Gillingham announced a plan to axe the project to save jobs.

"What we've done is just comb through, again, kind of line-by-line, the police service budget and really have to have conversations with the board and with the service and really look at difficult priority decisions," said Gillingham.

Cutting the program would require the approval of city council, and Gillingham plans to introduce a motion to do so.

"If we can get council approval on this motion, I'm really hoping -- very optimistic that the funding would be in place to avoid the layoffs," said Gillingham.

The Winnipeg Police Service's budget for this year includes plans to lay off between 40 and 68 cadets, cancel a 2016 recruitment class and lay off up to 37 people enrolled in the class.

The city's preliminary budget, which goes for approval tomorrow, has a 6.3 per cent increase for policing costs in it, but the board said it isn't enough to cover rising salaries and other costs.

On Monday, a CBC analysis found the City of Winnipeg is increasingly spending more of its budget on policing services.

In 2000, the Winnipeg Police Service was given 16.9 percent of the city's total budget. In 2016, that was up to almost 27 per cent, much higher than in many other Canadian municipalities such as Regina, Calgary and Edmonton.

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