All front-line RCMP officers in the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment will soon be required to outfit themselves with body-worn cameras while on duty, but concerns are being raised about the amount of time the new initiative will take out of police officers’ already busy schedules.
Speaking to North Cowichan council on Sept. 1, detachment head Chris Bear said that when local police begin wearing the cameras, which are expected to roll out in 2021/22, they will be required to spend a lot more time doing related paperwork.
“I think the cameras are a great idea in that they will make police officers more accountable but, in essence, they will require more work by individual officers because they will have to spend time to secure evidence, and deciding on which evidence is going to court,” Bear said.
“Each file will take a lot more work, and that eats up time.”
During the global demonstrations demanding more police accountability last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a commitment to have all RCMP officers who deal with the public don body-worn cameras as part of a broader strategy to enhance transparency, trust and confidence in the national police force.
The cameras are intended to capture an accurate, unbiased and reliable audio/video account of incidents involving uniformed police.
It’s expected the RCMP will purchase 12,500 body-worn cameras for use by officers at 700 detachments across the country, at an estimated cost of $131 million over five years.
Bear said the detachment has been working with limited resources for some time, and policing in the Cowichan Valley has to be done “smarter and more efficiently” to deal with increased costs and demands on time.
“We can’t be everywhere for everybody all the time,” he said. “The expectation of the community is for the police to do things with ‘exactitude’ as defined by the courts, and this requires a lot more time doing paperwork.”