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Update on Toronto police body camera pilot

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Last spring we wrote a post regarding a body camera pilot taking place in Toronto that is slated to continue until June 2016. In that post we outlined both the reasons people support and oppose the practice. Some believe the use of the cameras is a good way to record how law enforcement officers conduct themselves in the course of doing their job. Those opposed cite privacy issues as a reason.

Now, several months into the pilot, another disagreement tied to the matter has arisen. Specifically, there is a question as to when exactly the cameras should be turned on. Per the specifications of the pilot, officers are currently only turning the cameras on in certain situations such as when they are responding to a crime in progress, answering calls for service or making an arrest.

Some, including a retired Supreme Court Justice, believe however, that this approach results in a substantial amount of interaction the officers have with the public, not being recorded. Accordingly, these individuals call for the cameras to be turned on in non-detention and non-arrest situations as well.

As was the case in the last post, privacy is a concern for some. Those opposed to the additional use of the cameras indicated they fear that public trust could be impacted. In support of this position, people in this camp offer that there is nothing that indicates recording these situations would lead to bias-free policing or enhance police accountability. In addition, the financial expense that would accrue in conjunction with cameras being used in more situations was mentioned.

What, if anything, will change in the pilot will likely be determined at a Toronto police services board meeting that is taking place this week.

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