Should Montreal police officers wear video cameras?
Published Wednesday, January 8, 2014 5:12PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 8, 2014 7:38PM EST
MONTREAL -- As more and more police interventions are caught on cellphone videos, the Montreal police force is considering equipping officers with cameras of their own.
Other police forces that have used cameras say it has led to a decrease in violent interventions.
“If someone has the intention to be aggressive with a police officer, they could think twice before doing that, and also there could be an impact on the work of the police officer, himself, knowing everything he's saying is recorded,” said Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere.
Increasingly, smartphone videos are showing police interventions that turn ugly, and videos circulating on social media often allege police brutality, hurting the public confidence in police.
So-called ‘cop cams’ may be the best way to ensure both sides of the story are told, say police.
A new video posted on YouTube shows a confrontation at a downtown McDonalds restaurant, where an officer appears to punch a young person.
Montreal police say the video doesn't tell the whole story, because all that’s caught on video is one part of the intervention.
Many police forces have been experimenting with cop cams. Officers simply switch them on when arriving at a call
The initiative was so successful in Rialto, Calif., the police force there said since they introduces cameras two years ago, public complaints against officers have dropped by 88 per cent, and officers’ use of force fell by 60 per cent.
“Personnel assaults and officer complaints are the two things in law enforcement that we would like to take to a minimum… One day, this piece of evidence will serve as most of my report in court,” said Chris Hice of the Rialto police department in an interview with CNN.
In spite of that, it may be a while before cop-cams appear in Montreal, partly because Canadian laws are very different than in the U.S., and privacy advocates don't always favour this technology.
Also of concern is the price tag. The $500 costfor the cameras is just a small part; the police force would also have to pay extra staff to archive all the video files.
“In cities like Seattle, they used to have two officers for this. They went up to 26 officers,” said Lafreniere.
VIDEO: Montreal police officer appears to punch young man