Body worn cameras to provide accountability, transparency: Police Chief
March 3, 2021 By Canadian Press
March 3, 2021 (Thunder Bay, Ont.) – The Thunder Bay Police Services in Ontario hope the implementation of body-worn and in-car cameras will provide more transparency and accountability when it comes to policing in Thunder Bay, says the city’s police chief.
The Thunder Bay Police Services Board moved forward with the purchase of body-worn and in-car cameras during January’s monthly meeting and plan to begin rolling out the project later this year, Thunder Bay Chief of Police Sylvie Hauth said Tuesday, March 2.
A report released by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) in December 2018 recommended the implementation of in-car and body-worn cameras for the Thunder Bay Police in order to build trust between police and the public in Thunder Bay.
“The report itself really acknowledged that we needed to build that trust and really regain in our community the trust of the people that we serve and protect,” Hauth said. “The installation of all the body-worn and in-car cameras will help us not only provide accountability but be very transparent in the work that we do day-to-day with everybody we interact with.”
The cameras will be worn by front-line officers on duty. Police cruisers will have one outside camera facing forward and one camera in the back compartment of the vehicle. The projected capital expenditures for the project is $1.8 million over the course of five-years.
“Our total numbers are for the actual equipment, for the installation, the training components, the software,” Hauth said.
This year’s capital budget for the program also includes the replacement of conducted energy weapons which will include cameras.
“The taser technology has a camera built into the taser when you deploy it,” Hauth said, explaining that this data will be funnelled through the same digital platform as the other cameras.
The police service is currently working with the privacy commissioner of Ontario to ensure privacy policies are being followed with the new project. Hauth said the cameras will always be on but there will be some circumstances where a camera will be turned off including in a hospital setting and there are privacy issues in terms of the care being administered.
“There are certain things that will have to be very strictly defined just so we don’t breach the public’s interest in terms of privacy issues,” Hauth said.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation of the project has been delayed significantly but Hauth hopes by the end of the first quarter of 2021 some of the equipment will be shipped to Thunder Bay.
“The biggest portion is always the physical aspect of training so we need to bring people in house,” she said, adding with the current lockdown training up to 20 officers in a room isn’t possible.
The new technology for the project will be coming from Axon Canada Inc. including the digital evidence management platform.
The Thunder Bay Police Service began inquiring about the use of body-worn cameras originally in 2011, where police determined the challenges of managing data out of the cameras.
The project was revisited again in 2018 where a six-month pilot took place and police were able to revisit newer technology available for the police service including encrypted cloud-based storage.
“The pilot project really informed in terms of what was out there and what could meet our needs and really at the end of the day, the selection to go with Axon was based on what we required and what they had to offer,” Hauth said.
All the digital evidence collected by the cameras will be uploaded to a secure cloud-based data system which will allow police to share data seamlessly with the Crown attorney’s office.
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