Toronto police say wiring cops with body cameras may be inevitable

Toronto police say wiring cops with body cameras may be inevitable

Say freeze: Vievu is an example of a wearable camera marketed to cops

The latest accessories for police forces are not sound cannons or Tasers, but small digital video cameras that clip to officers’ shoulders or sunglasses. Toronto police don’t have any plans to buy cameras yet, but according to the Toronto Star, it might only be a matter of time:

“The trend is clearly going in that direction, though there are no plans here for that at this point,” said Mark Pugash, director of the Toronto police public information unit.

“We have invested heavily in CCTV and in-car cameras, and the reasons are accountability, best possible evidence and protection of the officer and the protection of the public” Pugash said.  “It is an excellent mechanism for accountability. It’s also about eliminating or discouraging completely baseless allegations,” he said.

He’s been keeping tabs on the testing and use of body worn devices by other police services here, in the U.S. and in Britain, where police began looking into them in 2007.

Civil libertarians are decidedly unimpressed with the cameras, and after all it’s been a whole seven days since we’ve had a debate about police powers in this city. One of the big questions is who will have access to the videos that are taken, and who will control the recording. The cautionary tale of the Vancouver RCMP, who tried to seize the video of Robert Dziekanski being Tasered so that it couldn’t be seen in public, weighs heavily here. Ditto the Officer Bubbles recording, in which the officer clearly doesn’t want to be filmed.

Worth saying once again that the Toronto Police don’t have any plans to get these cameras yet, even if “the trend is clearly going in that direction”. But by the time the city goes in to lockdown once more—hey, the Pan Am Games are only five years away—we might have stopped going in that direction and actually gotten there.

• Toronto police won’t use body cams — yet [Toronto Star]