Durham police one step closer to wearing body cameras
Report recommending a year-long pilot project involving 80 officers will be presented Monday
Durham Region police are one step closer to fitting officers with body-worn cameras.
A recommendation to set up a year-long pilot project involving as many as 80 officers will be part of a report presented Monday to the Durham Region Police Services Board.
"Public perception is everything," said Roger Anderson, the board's regional chair.
The $1.2-million project has been about three years in the making. Anderson says while there are some challenges — mainly the high cost and time required for officers to log video at the end of their shift — it's worth it.
"It'll benefit the public and it'll benefit the service, if the officer does something wrong," he said.
"We hope that doesn't happen, but if they do, we have evidence to show other officers ways not to do things."
- Durham police ponder cost of outfitting officers with body cameras
- Toronto police want to deploy body-worn cameras service-wide
A 'small step'
Joanne MacIsaac says her family supports any tool that could help reduce the use of excessive force by officers.
Her brother Michael was shot and killed at the age of 47 by a Durham officer after he ran from his Ajax home naked on a cold morning in December 2013. The officer shot MacIsaac mere seconds after leaving his cruiser.
He was cleared of any wrongdoing in two investigations by the province's Special lnvestigations Unit and the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
"Do I think a body camera may have made him in less of a hurry to draw his weapon? Yes. And it would give us clearer picture of the interaction," said MacIsaac.
Still, she has questions on how the cameras will be operated and who will be able to access the footage.
"Will police officers be able to turn them off? At convenient times will they stop operating, or video be deleted?"
MacIsaac, whose family is fundraising to represent themselves at the upcoming coroner's inquest into her brother's death, believes the force needs better recruitment and training to deal with people in crisis, in addition to cameras.
"It's one more level of a chance of accountability, but you have to have the right person doing the job."