Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pushing for premiers in Canada to look into body cameras for police as accusations of racism and brutality mount.
“One of the things we discussed was the adoption of body cameras. It is something in my opinion what we need to move forward with,” said Trudeau.
The concept of police wearing body cameras isn’t new. In fact, six years ago, Victoria Lawyer Michelle Lawrence pushed to have B.C. police officers wear body cameras. Her recommendation was even endorsed by a special legislative committee. But as she announced on Twitter a few days ago, she’s still waiting.
Six years ago I gave evidence to a Special Legislative Ctte recommending use of body-worn cameras by B.C. police. The Ctte endorsed the recommendation, calling on govt to “aggressively pursue” the policy. #stillwaiting pic.twitter.com/2eNBjgDIG9
— Michelle Lawrence (@mlawrenceuvic) June 6, 2020
“The first is privacy rights, second is just practical functionality, officer safety using this equipment, and the third is cost,” said Lawrence.
The University of Victoria associate professor believes the cameras would help fill in gaps in evidence.
“There’s this crude and cruel reality that the individuals who can provide evidence to investigators to explain the use of force, they’re often only police. When there’s been a fatality, the main witness is dead,” said Lawrence.
Victoria police did pilot the cameras in 2009, but the department says the financial cost and some legal roadblocks have prevented them from bringing them in for full-time use. But many argue with incidents like George Floyd and even Port Alberni’s Chantel Moore, who was shot and killed by police in New Brunswick, now isn’t the time for roadblocks.
“All of it is about accountability. So having this as just one tool in ensuring that our police officers are accountable in their interactions with the public. It could also assist the police if they were dealing with a violent offender or with someone who didn’t want to be apprehended by police,” said former British Columbia Solicitor General Kash Heed.
Trudeau says he plans to speak with premiers this week about their plans for provincial and municipal forces.