Vancouver council to debate equipping police with body-worn cameras Tuesday

Click to play video: 'Vancouver police moving closer to body cameras'
Vancouver police moving closer to body cameras
It looks like the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department are moving closer to having all VPD officers equipped with body cameras. Rumina Daya reports – Dec 2, 2022

Vancouver city council is set to vote next week on a proposal to equip the city’s police with body-worn cameras.

The motion, authored by ABC Vancouver Coun. Lenny Zhou, would direct city staff to identify the costs to implement and operate a full complement of body-worn cameras for on-duty front-line officers in the Vancouver Police Department.

Staff would report back on the plan with recommendations by early 2024, with the aim of having a program in place by 2025.

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Police in Toronto and Calgary have already moved to equip front-line officers with body-worn cameras, and in B.C., the Delta Police Department is currently running a pilot project.

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The RCMP is also preparing to roll out 12,500 cameras across 700 detachments, starting with a field test of 300 units in three divisions.

The cost of implementing a body-worn camera program for the VPD is not yet clear, but the RCMP estimates its own program would cost about $131 million over five years, including technology, storage and processing.

Click to play video: 'New Vancouver mayor promises to deploy body cameras with officers'
New Vancouver mayor promises to deploy body cameras with officers

The VPD has said it is open to talking about cameras, but that questions around privacy must first be addressed.

Zhou’s motion cites comments from VPD Chief Adam Palmer to the recent provincial Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act supporting the cameras’ instatement as part of a provincial policing standard.

It also cites a 2015 legislative special committee’s report on the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which recommended the provincial government “aggressively pursue the steps necessary to implement the police use of body-worn cameras.”

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In an October interview with Global News, IIO chief civilian director Ron MacDonald echoed that call, saying he’s been pushing for the use of body-worn cameras for years.

“Certainly where there is an investigation ongoing into a serious harm or death investigation, the privacy issues don’t, I believe, play a role in any way as significant as the need for a thorough, complete investigation that video would assist in,” MacDonald said at the time.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, however, has raised privacy concerns about the concept, suggesting cameras should only be used if no other less intrusive methods are available.

The motion is scheduled to go to council for debate on Tuesday.

Click to play video: 'Gang activity leads to Delta Police extending body worn cameras pilot project'
Gang activity leads to Delta Police extending body worn cameras pilot project

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