New Brunswick

Bathurst police to wear body cameras

Bathurst city council has approved the purchase of $60,000 worth of body cameras for its municipal police force. Councillors voted unanimously to approve the purchase from a Texas company at a meeting Monday night.

Force will record “critical incidents” and arrests at the discretion of officers

The Bathurst Police Service is dismantling its Northeaster Integrated Intelligence Unit (CBC)

Bathurst city council has approved the purchase of $60,000 worth of body cameras for its municipal police force.

Mayor Stephen Brunet and councilors voted unanimously to approve the purchase from a Texas company at a meeting Monday night.

"Essential services are very important. We want our front line people to be as safe as possible and to do the best job possible," said Brunet.

Bathurst police cruisers are already outfitted with dashboard cameras, and many of those will also be replaced.

The force will be the second municipal police force in New Brunswick to be equipped with body cameras, after officers in Rothesay.

Bathurst Police Chief Ernie Boudreau told the police commission it makes all police look bad for people to think they don't believe sexual assault victims. (CBC)
"We are recorded on a regular basis. We have in-car cameras in the vehicles.  All our interview rooms are recorded, all cell block rooms are recorded," said deputy chief Ernie Boudreau

"So this is probably just another addition of equipment that we feel our officers should have."

When the cameras are delivered, the force will draft a policy.

"We want the officers to have the discretion to turn on and off the body camera when it is required. We want critical incidents to be recorded," said Boudreau.

Critical incidents include arrests, which Boudreau says will have to be recorded. Officers will also have to justify their actions when turning the camera off.

The cameras could bolster police accountability in the community, where two officers have been charged with manslaughter.

Boudreau says the new equipment is "not necessarily" a response to the charges.

Mayor Stephen Brunet and Bathurst city councillors voted unanimously to purchase body cameras and new dashboard cameras for the municipal police. (CBC News)
"I think any police department on any contact with the public has to re-evaluate its training, re-evaluate the equipment that's needed and required by our officers."

Constables Patrick Bulger, 38, and Mathieu Boudreau, 26, were charged in November after Nova Scotia RCMP completed their investigation into the Jan. 2015 death of Michel Vienneau.

Vienneau was shot and killed by Bathurst police outside the city's Via Rail station after police received an electronic Crime Stoppers tip that he and his common-law wife would be coming off the train in the possession of illegal drugs.

Michel Vienneau's widow, Annick Basque, has filed two lawsuits against the city and its police force, alleging that police were negligent, and that she was arrested forcibly and without cause.

"We'll have to let it run its course and we'll see where it all ends up," said Mayor Brunet.

"It would be hard to absorb if it's a whole lot of money. But it has happened and we will continue to support our police department."

Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau are scheduled to face their charges in court Jan. 4.

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