By Lethbridge Herald on June 9, 2020.
Lethbridge Police Service has been looking into gearing up with body cameras for officers for almost a year, and with recent support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for all officers to wear one, they are hoping the federal government will contribute some financial support.
According to Lethbridge Chief of Police, Scott Woods, LPS has built the body-worn cameras into their 2019-22 business plans and they are looking at proper vendors to use.
“We’re down to a couple of different vendors,” says Woods. “We may actually look at choosing two vendors just for comparison purposes. Our goal is by fall of this year, if not starting in January, is where we want to go. I don’t personally think it’s going to solve all the problems, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
While many incidents over the years, along with the recent death of George Floyd in the U.S. has increased demand for police accountability and for body cams to be mandatory, Woods says they have long believed it would be an important asset to their police uniform.
“We’re going to solve the problems with community relationships by listening and hearing about the concerns that are being brought forward to us working together and forging a path for what we need in order to go forward,” says Woods. “I think it comes down to what we’ve talked about here a couple times recently is trust. Trust for the public, trust for anybody that we’re interacting with, trust with the media. That’s, I would suggest, in the front view of a lot of people these days, and it’s one step toward building that trust again back with policing.”
Woods also says body cameras would not only help with public reassurance for when an officer acts incorrectly, but it will also help in securing a number of guilty convictions from being able to show the actual incident in court. Although Woods did not dive too deep into regulations behind turned-off body cameras, he said they would have to investigate on a case-by-case basis to see if it was a malfunction, accidental turn off, or an intentional one. If it was intentional, Woods told media there would be consequences.
The cost for preparing officers with functional body cameras is unknown at this point as the cost goes further than just the cameras and harnessing equipment.
“The actual cost for hardware isn’t too bad,” says Woods “Where your big costs come in for policing is data storage, data management and maintenance.”
With the potential of 25 to 40 officers with body cameras on the street at any given time, Woods voiced concern for the amount of data to manage, especially since they feel they will have to keep videos on file for up to 25 years after it was taken.
The launch of the pilot project would likely see a small number of officers test the equipment. LPS hopes the federal government, with their current voiced support of body cameras, will help fund and implement the project for both the protection of civilians and police officers.
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