EDITORIAL – Cost of body-worn cameras for frontline police will be worth it
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
BODYWORN CAMERAS are expected to become common among frontline RCMP officers later this year or early next, and they will prove a valuable tool in the pursuit of justice in this country.
Both police and those they interact with will be given a new means of determining the facts. When Kamloops will get them is unclear but members of the last council and leadership at the Kamloops detachment have spoken in favour of them.
National guidelines for how they’ll be used were released late last year and B.C. set standards for them almost four years ago. They won’t be turned on 24-7. Each time officers arrive at a call, a decision will be made whether or not to turn them on.
Though some cities with their own police forces already use them, the reason they aren’t widely employed is the cost. In the case of the RCMP, though, the feds will put up $248 million. That should erase previous objections.
As it is now, video evidence is largely dependent on passersby with cellphones, and they aren’t always reliable. Yet there have been incidents here and certainly elsewhere in which such videos have been instrumental in assessing exactly what happens when there are police-involved conflicts.
A pilot program resulted in 85 per cent of the officers who used them being in support, and a large majority in the community where the pilot took place said they felt safer and that the cameras increased their trust in the police.
There’s no longer any doubt that body cams should be mandatory in every community, whether served by the RCMP or by municipal police forces. It’s not just about police accountability; it’s about protecting police from false accusations about their conduct.
It’s estimated it will cost $50 million a year to maintain them. And there’s a cost in the time it takes to process the videos, too.
That cost will be worth it.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, alternate TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Livestream Body Cams so spin doctors and lawyers don’t have time to create bullshit “narrative” like we have now. I suggest live audio to ensure accuracy.
It would be more interesting to know and understand the reasons behind the 15% of officers that do NOT support their use. One wonders how many of them are concerned about ‘getting caught’ doing, what they know they are not supposed to be doing.