Questions arise over effectiveness of Fredericton police body-worn cameras
On the heels of Fredericton City Council voting unanimously this week to move forward with a five-year body-camera program, some councillors and researchers are calling for more details to be released about results from the city’s pilot project.
Council voted Monday to purchase six cameras after a “successful” 90-day pilot project last year. Several councillors told Global News they are hoping for more information to be released by next week with more specifics about the pilot program results.
University of Toronto criminology doctorate student Erick Laming said he has spent the last four years researching the effectiveness of police-worn body cameras. Laming said there isn’t enough research in Canada to prove whether or not they work, or don’t.
In a Skype interview, Laming said there is only one confirmed agency that has standardized the equipment in Canada, which is the Amherstburg Police Service in Ontario.
“It’s very limited with over 180 police services in Canada, only a handful have actually tested,” Laming said.
He said it’s strange there hasn’t been any more information released to the public by the Fredericton Police Force, and said the pilot project data should already be available to members of council and citizens.
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“What that says to me is blind faith,” Laming said. “These councillors are putting blind faith into this process that the service pilot went well, the fact that there’s really been no results is really concerning and I think the public should be raising questions about this, at least from my experience from reading some things from this pilot.”
Councillors told Global News they have full confidence in the program. A spokesperson from the city confirmed Thursday there will be more information released soon about the pilot program results.
In May, Fredericton Deputy Chief Martin Gaudet told media the six officers who took part in the initial pilot gave the cameras a satisfaction rating of over 80 per cent.
Laming said that’s not enough information to confirm whether or not the cameras had an impact.
“I don’t even know what that means,” Laming said. “So if that’s your only communication to the public about this pilot so far, it’s really bad that you’re going to go ahead and adopt them permanently entering into a long-term contract.”
He said there’s no proof that body cameras improve community relationships, reduce the use of force, improve evidence, or reduce complaints against officers.
Gaudet told Global News in March 2017, they will enhance the transparency of the police force and continue to build public trust.
Laming said he wants to know what the goals of the pilot program were as well, and if it was successful in terms of meeting those goals.
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