IF police officers are required to preserve order and safety in support of a court order ending the occupation of Vancouver Downtown Eastside’s Oppenheimer Park, they will use body worn cameras to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected, Vancouver Police announced Tuesday.
As an extension of the VPD‘s Evidence Gathering Team within the Public Safety Unit, the VPD will be increasing its video recording capabilities by utilizing body worn video. The use of body worn video will allow VPD officers to record a more personal side of police interactions with demonstrators, increasing transparency and providing accurate accounts of police interactions with the public.
During the testing phase, the body worn video equipment will be available to eight police officers within the VPD’s Evidence Gathering Team who will be at the forefront of police interactions with the public. The new cameras will be utilized in addition to handheld and pole mounted video cameras that have been used by officers for many years. Officers are trained to video an event for potential evidence, for the identification of those who choose to commit a criminal offence, and for training purposes.
There are no plans for the VPD to roll out the cameras with its patrol officers at this time.
The cost to purchase a body worn video camera is relatively small, and police continue to research challenges in relation to the long term storage of the video. The VPD is currently testing a mass-market, retail product that many citizens already own and utilize on a daily basis.
“The cameras are being tested with everyone’s safety in mind,” says VPD Chief Constable Jim Chu. “Everyone is on their best behaviour when a camera is rolling.”