Amherstburg police begin wearing body cameras
Chief says cameras will enhance accountability.
The Amherstburg police service is taking a step towards greater accountability with a new tool being used as part of a pilot project.
The service will be only the second in the province to equip officers with body cameras. The small cameras can fit in the palm of a person's hand and will be turned on when an officer responds to a call.
The police chief in Amherstburg said the service could have used the cameras years ago.
"I think every police department in North America would say they wished they had a video camera at certain times and we're hoping to close those gaps," said Chief Tim Berthiaume.
Only eight officers will wear the cameras, which cost $600 each, an amount that includes the cost of storing the video gathered. Establishing how much storing the video will cost is part of the reason why this is a pilot project and not a fully implemented aspect of the service.
Chief Berthiaume also said that any officer who fails to use the cameras appropriately will face discipline.
Using body cameras is something Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick has considered.
"When there's an infraction or some altercation with a citizen," he said, "that's captured and that's a great benefit."
However, Frederick said the cost of equiping the much larger Windsor police service with body cameras is a problem.
"It's very costly. Amherstburg is a smaller service. We have a much larger number of officers," said Frederick, who added that the service would investigate body cameras as it builds next year's budget.
Not everyone thinks the cameras are a good idea.
University of Windsor professor John Deukmedjian, a specialist in policing and security, cautions some officers may be reluctant to use the cameras for the intended use. He believes officers may tamper with the video, because of how their careers could potentially be affected.
That won't happen, according to Chief Berthiaume. He said officers won't be able to delete video once it's been recorded.