Body camera to be worn by A’burg cops

 

By Joel Charron

 

The next time you come across an Amherstburg police officer you could be on camera.

Amherstburg Police Chief, Tim Berthiuame revealed that starting Wednesday the Amherstburg Police would be moving forward with a pilot project that will see officers sporting “body-worn” cameras to record their interaction with the public.

The 30-day field test will have cameras being worn by one officer during the day shift and one officer on the night shift.

Berthiaume said seven officers have been trained with the cameras so far. If the 30-day field test goes wel,l the officers will be outfitted with them for a year.  If successful, all 20 officers will wear the cameras.

 

Sgt. Scott Riddell shows off the born worn camera that some Amherstburg police officers will be wearing during the 30-day field test starting April 24.

Sgt. Scott Riddell shows off the born worn camera that some Amherstburg police officers will be wearing during the 30-day field test starting April 24.

“The audio video recording device appears to be a valuable tool in our constant pursuit of increasing accountability, transparency as well as officer and public safety,” said Berthiaume.

The cameras will be located on the officer’s lapel and will be able to record audio and video as well as acting as a microphone for portable radios.

The cameras cost roughly $600 each.

Berthiaume said the Amherstburg Police Services goals are to enhance officer and public safety, increase transparency and accountability, provide powerful evidence in court while reducing time spent in court, provide opportunities to identify training needs and reduce time spent investigating public complaints.

Berthiaume ensured that officers cannot access the memory card.

“The memory card is located inside the camera. The camera would have to be disassembled in order to access it,” he said. “It increases the integrity of the software and the data collected.”

Berthiaume added officers could download the data to their server, at which point the officer can copy the video but cannot delete any data once it’s recorded.

“Any data that is deleted must be approved by the Chief of Police,” he stated.

The officer is responsible for turning the camera on and off, however Berthiaume noted that it’s not optional and any officer that does not activate it would be subject to discipline under the Police Services Act.

Police aren’t sure how big of a server will be required to store the data so it is unknown how much the entire project will cost if brought on board on a permanent basis.

“At the end of the 30 days we will see how big of a server we will need and if it’s a good fit for the Amherstburg Police,” said Berthiaume.

President of the Amherstburg Police Associate, Shawn McCurdy said the officers are “always open to everything that enhances public and officer safety.”

“It’s a trial period, we have to test them to see how they are going to work,” said McCurdy. “Hopefully it will go well.”

Amherstburg is the second police force in Ontario to adopt body-worn cameras, Thunder Bay was the first.

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