Body cams being considered by Waterloo Regional Police
KITCHENER -- As more and more police services across North America are looking to mandate the use of body cameras for officers, Waterloo Region Police Service is considering implementing them as well.
“I think it’s always been a question of not if but when we do this,” said Chief Bryan Larkin of WRPS.
He adds that the technology is currently not included in the budget and would need to be approved by the police services board.
“There’s an investment to buy the cameras, but that’s not the biggest deal. The biggest deal is how you store the recordings, which is what they’re used for,” said Karen Redman, Chair of the WRPS Board.
Regional Police do not have an estimate on how much it will cost to implement the technology, but Redman says it would be a multi-million dollar investment.
Five years ago, a body camera pilot project in Toronto cost the police service half a million dollars to outfit officers for one year.
“I would think that officers that are out on patrol for sure, or answering calls, would wear them,” said Redman. “That’s where the community wants transparency.”
Ann Cavoukian, executive director of Global Privacy and Security by Design Centre, says the rights of law-abiding citizens must be protected.
“That’s why I’m urging the police bodies to encrypt all data collected on the video feeds, and then if there is a legitimate crime or something that’s happened, you can always decrypt it and gain access to that footage,” she said.
Larkin says he doesn’t view any of the private assessment pieces as insurmountable.
The push for body-worn cameras comes in the wake of several high profile incidents across North America that have sparked international protests against anti-black racism and police brutality.
“I think body-worn video is just one piece of technology that may assist, that may bring a different lens, and that may bring different levels of accountability,” said Larkin.
Last week, Guelph’s Police Chief released a statement saying that the service is planning a pilot project which will see some officers wearing cameras later this year.