WINNIPEG — City council voted to cancel a body camera pilot program for Winnipeg police to avoid possible layoffs within the service.
For the past ten days the Winnipeg Police Service and Winnipeg’s mayor have been involved in a public spat over the police budget.
The 2016 operating budget includes $280.7 million in spending for city police but the service said it needed an additional $2.45 million.
Chief Devon Clunis said the shortfall could mean the elimination of 80 jobs.
But on Tuesday council voted instead to delay a million dollar pilot project to test the effectiveness of body-worn cameras. The money will now be put towards the police budget to offset the shortfall.
In a statement Police Board Chair Scott Gillinham said:
The Board remains interested in the potential of body-worn cameras and will consider a pilot project in the future if the funding is available. In the meantime, the Board and the Service will study the outcomes of pilot projects being conducted in other cities.
The council said additional one-time expenditure reductions would also have to be found.’
Deputy Chief Art Stannard says they will go through the budget line-by-line to see what savings can be found.
“Sometimes, through the year, you find savings,” Stannard said. But he also said police had worked to reduce it’s budget this year and finding further reductions would be challenging.
“There is a risk behind every reduction.”
The project was supposed to be introduced in 2017. No future start date was given.