Nova Scotia

New Glasgow police to launch body-worn camera pilot project

The police force in New Glasgow, N.S., is launching a pilot project this month to test the feasibility of body-worn cameras on front-line officers. Police say the project aims to strengthen trust and improve evidence-gathering for officers.

Two-month project will look at feasibility for cameras on front-line officers

New Glasgow Regional Police is getting four cameras on loan from WatchGuard for the pilot project. (Submitted by Ken MacDonald)

The police force in New Glasgow, N.S., is launching a pilot project this month to test the feasibility of body-worn cameras on front-line officers.

Const. Ken MacDonald, public information officer for New Glasgow Regional Police, said one front-line officer from each platoon per shift will wear a body-worn camera to record interactions with community members.

He said the project aims to strengthen trust, improve evidence-gathering for officers and assist with prosecutions.

"These video-audio recordings will allow us, more or less, to demonstrate transparency to the community," said MacDonald.

"By documenting evidence, the officer can make recording observations, and it's also very beneficial to deter illegal and inappropriate behaviours."

While the officers will be able to view any footage gathered from the office, MacDonald said they won't be able to alter it. He said the footage gathered during the pilot would be able to be used for prosecution purposes.

"If it does pick any type of criminal offence, they will use the information that is on the bodycam," he said.

Const. Ken MacDonald says the project aims to improve transparency in the police force. (CBC)

During the two-month project, the police force will use four cameras on loan from the technology company WatchGuard. While they aren't paying for the cameras used during the pilot, each camera and the associated software would cost about $1,000, MacDonald said.

He said the officers will be trained on using the cameras and the technology that comes with it before they are equipped with them.

During the pilot, the police force will speak with the officers using the cameras, community members, prosecutors and other stakeholders to see what they think about the pilot.

"We'll gather all that information, compile it, and make our next decision," said MacDonald.

Some N.S. police forces already using body cameras

Police forces in Kentville, N.S., and Truro, N.S., have already started using body-worn cameras.

In Halifax, the board of police commissioners voted Monday to delay the rollout of Halifax Regional Police's $3.7-million bodycam program by a year.

During Monday's meeting, Coun. Lindell Smith said he wanted to see clearer policies surrounding the use of body-worn cameras before moving forward with the program.

"I am fearful of what body-worn cameras could be perceived to do, and not actually deal with the issues that we want to deal with when it comes to racism and etc.," he said.

While body-worn cameras have been touted as a way to improve accountability in policing, some experts have raised doubts about their efficacy and the high price tag that comes with them.