Blue Line

RCMP extends body worn camera field testing in Iqaluit

July 31, 2023  By Tom Taylor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

July 31, 2023, Iqaluit, Nunavut – The RCMP will continue to field test body-worn cameras in Iqaluit ahead of a planned Nunavut-wide roll out of the devices.

Field testing began in the city in early May, and was extended in mid-July, according to RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Pauline Melanson, who could not provide a firm date for the end of the testing period.

Body-worn cameras were initially brought to Iqaluit from Nov. 30, 2020 to May 30, 2021, when 53 officers donned the devices in a pilot project.

Only eight members of the Iqaluit RCMP are currently testing the cameras, she said. Those officers will continue to use their devices once the testing period concludes.

Some time after the testing phase ends, the RCMP will begin a Nunavut-wide roll out of the devices, which is expected to occur over a period of eight to 12 months.

The start date of the territorial roll out “will depend on the results of the test,” according to Melanson.

“Field testing body-worn cameras represents the final stage of the procurement process, meant to ensure that the technical solution meets the RCMP’s needs in a fully operational setting,” she said. “Since field tests are part of an active and ongoing procurement process, we are unable to provide updates on how field tests are going or comment on the equipment and software being tested.”

While Melanson was unable to shed light on the initial results of the ongoing testing phase, she claimed people in Iqaluit are “happy to see the cameras in use.”

She did not immediately have details on the approximate cost of purchasing cameras for Nunavut RCMP officers or how much it will cost to operate the overall system annually.

After the 2020-21 pilot project, the RCMP surveyed both officers and community members on the use of the cameras. The majority of those who shared their opinions felt the devices were useful. However, the RCMP acknowledged at the time there was an “underrepresentation of Inuit respondents” involved in the survey.

George Hickes, who represents the constituency of Iqaluit-Tasiluk in the legislative assembly, recognizes the importance of thorough testing, but hopes the devices will become the standard for RCMP officers in Iqaluit soon as it will add “a lot of transparency” to interactions between civilians and officers.

“I was very happy that the RCMP did their initial pilot project in Nunavut,” said the former Nunavut justice minister. “It was very smart on their part to make sure that some of the logistical and technical issues of dealing with remote cameras. I can’t really comment on why the delays are ongoing. It is something that should be done right, but I think as soon as these pieces of equipment get into play, the better,” he added. “I think it’s very important for both parties.”

– Nunavut News

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