Body cameras not a priority for Ottawa police, force says

The Ottawa Police Service says it is no longer looking to outfit officers with body cameras, instead focusing on other priorities such as recent violence leading to five homicides.

'Very limited budget' forces police to target youth violence, officers' union says

Ottawa police won't be outfitting officers in body cameras any time soon, the force says, instead focusing on other priorities. (CBC)

The Ottawa Police Service says it is no longer looking at outfitting officers with body cameras, instead focusing on other priorities, such as recent violence that has lead to five homicides in 2016.

Matt Skof, president of the Ottawa Police Association, has been calling for body cameras in recent years, but said he wasn't surprised by the decision.

"We are in an unfortunate situation where we have a staffing issue with our service," he said. "Obviously with the very limited budget provided to our service, this is going to be a matter of priorities."

Skof said he agreed with the decision, adding that the budget should go towards the priority of staffing issues, but he did admit body cameras on police will soon be required.

"If you look at the way we've moved in society, towards what's required for an evidence issue for officers around proving themselves and their innocence, this is going to be something that is going to be necessary," he said. 

Another concern stems from requirements for the privacy and quality of the data derived from the cameras. Skof said the quality, security and storage of the data adds to the expense of using body cameras.

He has been advocating that the Ontario government posses the data for a couple of reasons. 

"This should be a provincially mandated project where the data is stored at a provincial level so that there is no accusation of tampering and it is all stored at one level that the courts require." Skof said. 

"It's absorbed at a cost by that level since the provincial units, as well as the court system, is the one who has the true advantage of having this data."

With files from the CBC's Chloé Fedio