Six members of the Fredericton Police Force will now wear body-mounted cameras as part of a 90-day pilot project.
Officers in the Traffic Safety Section and the Primary Response Team will be wearing the cameras to capture video during their shifts.
Deputy Police Chief Martin Gaudet said he’s happy the pilot program is underway and said he hopes it will help enhance the transparency of the police force and continue to build public trust.
“There’s been a lot of conversation about body worn cameras in the last I’d say decade. We’ve seen a lot in the United States, it’s creeped over into Canada,” Gaudet said.
He said the project will also help police collect evidence, increase officer accountability and help de-escalte situations, along with assisting in investigations.
Const. Patrick Small volunteered to wear one of the cameras, and told reporters he, and his colleagues are excited to wear them. Small said it will help them collect extra evidence for court and help in resolving any complaints that come in.
“It’s a way to help de-escalate a situation by [the public] knowing they’re being recorded, [and] it’s a way to assist in gathering evidence,” Small said. “So, if somebody goes through a stop sign and I activate the camera and it records the incident then that will assist in court.”
Small said the cameras can record the previous 30 seconds prior to when they’re activated.
Staff Sgt. Paul Battiste is helping administer the program and said officers will use their discretion as when to turn the cameras on and off. He said it will be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on the situation unfolding.
“We’re leaving it up to the officers to make a good discretion call when and when not to activate your cameras, and then at the end of the 90 days, depending on how much data is collected, we will better be able to know if that’s something that we could make a rule of a policy and that we will have it on at all times,” Battiste said.
Battiste said the cameras will be turned off during sensitive situation and the public will be told when they’re being recorded.
The data will be uploaded to cloud storage provided by Axon Taser – the company who also provided the cameras.
Gaudet said by the end of June they’ll put all the information together and weigh the pros and cons of continuing to use the cameras.
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