Police to test body-worn cameras in pilot project
Los Angeles Police Sgt. Daniel Gomez demonstrates a video feed from his camera on his cellphone as on-body cameras are demonstrated for the media Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. (AP / Damian Dovarganes)
Toronto police officers could be equipped with body-worn cameras as soon as November, as part of a pilot project prompted by the shooting death of Sammy Yatim.
In a statement published online, the Toronto Police Service said that frontline officers will start wearing cameras to record incidents as part of a one-year pilot project.
"This is a real opportunity for us to test the equipment and find technology that meets the needs of our Service," Supt. Tom Russell wrote.
Police are currently considering camera vendors. Once a vendor is chosen, TPS will distribute 100 cameras to four different locations across the city for a year, to find out "what works and what doesn't."
TPS said the use of technology would modify behaviour of both police officers and the public, as both would be aware that their actions are being recorded.
The statement came two months after a report by former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci suggested police should wear the cameras to "ensure greater accountability and transparency."
The report was commissioned in response to public outrage following the death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, who was shot on a streetcar by a Toronto police officer on July 26, 2013.
Yatim's family said the teenager was suffering an "acute emotional disturbance" at the time of the shooting.
Over the past decade, police departments across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. have toyed with the idea of using technology to curb use of force.
Police departments in Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal and Calgary have all launched pilot projects to test the effectiveness of the smartphone-sized devices.
In Calgary, police deployed 50 cameras in 2012, then expanded the program to equip all uniformed police officers with cameras starting in 2013.
Officials said the cameras captured 2,700 videos in 2013, and 30 of them were used as evidence in court cases involving police.