Halifax chief promises another look at body cameras for police
HALIFAX -- Halifax's chief of police says the force will reconsider the use of body-worn cameras by its officers.
The idea has been rejected in the past, but the chief says, with anti-racism protests across North America, he's going to take another look at it.
Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella was joined by fellow officers at Monday's rally to display his support and commitment to improving relations between Halifax Regional Police and the black community.
"The community is hurting," said Kinsella. "They've been experiencing some things they should not have to experience. We're here to support the community and we want to let them know that we're here for them, allow them to have their voices heard. It's also important to be part of that, to show that support and ensure that they know we're here for them."
Kinsella says he has heard the call for action from police, and wants to show the community that he is committed to building trust.
"We have been committed to working with the community in areas such as training, ongoing communication and, most notably, the formation of an advisory committee to me as the chief," Kinsella said. "So, we can have those consultations and that communication to see where we should be going and what we should be doing."
One of the things that will be on the table is the Wortley Report's recommendation of body-worn cameras for Halifax Regional Police.
"We are currently looking at it," Kinsella said. "We've reviewed the previous report and there are some things that have changed since then, around the technology, around the data storage and those things, so we are committed. It is a tool that can have great use, we just have to make sure we consider it and we also have to look at the resources required to carry that out."
Petition collects 33,000 signatures in three days
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"The community response has been crazy," said Erin Johnson, the petition's creator. "I think it just really goes to show that there's such a demand for the Halifax Regional Police to find some way to get accountability for their officers."
Privacy lawyer David Fraser says that any concerns over privacy should be outweighed by a need for accountability.
"Obviously more surveillance raises privacy issues, but I think it's key with respect to transparency, with understanding police actions and holding them accountable," Fraser said. "Public servants have a significantly reduced expectation of privacy when they're carrying out official functions, and the police have a much higher degree of accountability."
Kinsella says, despite recent budget cuts, police will review body cameras and reconsider whether the benefits are worth the cost.
Advocates of body-worn cameras have argued that police are spending half a million dollars on an armoured vehicle, when body-worn cameras would be more in the public interest.
Chief Kinsella confirms that the vehicle has been ordered, and says he is aware of the image it presents.
But he said Nova Scotia has had some tragic events recently and says the vehicle is intended only for rescue and protection.