Winnipeg councillor’s motion on police body cams shot down, board chair calls for community input

A Winnipeg Police Service shoulder badge on an officer is shown in Winnipeg.
A Winnipeg Police Service shoulder badge on an officer is shown in Winnipeg. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

A Winnipeg city councillor’s efforts to push through body cameras for city police was shot down at Wednesday’s community committee meeting, and the chair of the police board is calling for community involvement in any decision-making.

Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood) told 680 CJOB on Wednesday morning he would be putting forth a motion for the city to help the police with the high-tech gear.

Klein said body cams will help hold officers accountable, and will also give Winnipeggers a better idea of what city cops face while on duty.

“You can hear the mistrust in police,” Klein said.

“We’ve seen petitions, we’ve heard the comments of ‘defund the police.’ We need to take a stand as leaders and put a mechanism in place that’s non-judgmental.

“Nobody can deny the fact that body-worn cameras are unbiased. They will give us the real picture of what happened, and that will lead to building trust with community members and police officers.”

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Klein, a previous chair of the Winnipeg Police Board, resigned that position in June, citing concerns with the city being “divided” on the issue of policing and police accountability.

Klein’s motion was voted down Wednesday afternoon when fellow councillors Janice Lukes (Waverley West) and Scott Gillingham (St. James) said they wanted more details about ongoing costs and felt it was an issue that should be decided by the police board.


Read more: ‘We have some bad apples too’: Winnipeg police and accountability

Police board chair (and fellow city councillor) Markus Chambers (St. Norbert – Seine River) said the body cam idea is contrary to what he’s hearing from the community — which is calling for change to the city’s policing, but of a different kind.
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“We want to hear from the community,” said Chambers.
“Is this something they’re willing to support as well? Certainly the calls we are hearing about defunding the police, this is the opposite of that.”This would be funding the police, giving them additional resources or setting the priority for body worn cameras. That’s not what we are hearing.”

Read more: Coun. Kevin Klein resigns as Winnipeg Police Board chair amid ‘critical time’ for policing

Earlier this summer, Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth said he would support a pilot project with the cameras, with full implementation costing between $8 million and $10 million.

In response to a request for comment from Global News, police pointed to Smyth’s earlier support for the project, and said any movement on the issue would require a conversation about the police budget.

“It is a discussion that will need to take place with the Winnipeg Police Board, City Council and the Community about ‘needs, values and expectations’ as to how they want the police budget allocated,” said a police spokesman in a statement.

Click to play video: 'Rallying cry to “defund the police” resonates with some in Winnipeg' Rallying cry to “defund the police” resonates with some in Winnipeg
Rallying cry to “defund the police” resonates with some in Winnipeg – Jun 8, 2020


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