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Halifax Regional Police officers may start wearing body cameras as early as next fall.
According to HRP’s body-worn cameras proposal to be presented to the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners Monday, the devices are to be rolled out in the traffic section after a procurement process is completed in the fall.
“Once the required technology is in place, HRP traffic officers will receive the body-worn video training package and subsequently be issued body-worn video,” Halifax Regional Police says in its proposed five-year plan.
“It is important to start small with body-worn video rollout so that the system and policy issues can be addressed early on.”
All officers will receive training on the devices in 2022, followed by the cameras being rolled out to patrol officers. They will also be available to “all other officers when undertaking extra-duty or callouts.”
During those phases, “we will determine which other positions at HRP may be required to wear body-worn video,” the proposal says.
The cameras are to be rolled out to all relevant positions by the end of 2022.
Throughout the spring/summer in 2022, Halifax Regional Police “will begin an overall evaluation of the body-worn video program to date, to determine if the program is operating appropriately and improving transparency and accountability.”
While it doesn’t specify how many body cameras Halifax Regional Police will need, the proposal says it would be ideal to issue “a camera to each uniformed officer and maintaining additional cameras for use when issued cameras are being repaired.”
There would also need to be additional cameras available for officers who take extra-duty shifts or are called out to support active events, the proposal says.
Halifax Regional Police estimates the technology costs would be $795,000 for the first year, with an annual licensing and operating cost of $380,000 in the following years.
Also, four new staff positions would be required for procedures such as processing and vetting of video files for court disclosure and processing freedom-of-information requests related to body-worn video content.
“Based on the above assumptions, we estimate a total program cost of $3.71 million over a five-year period, factoring in capital, operating and labour costs,” Halifax Regional Police say.
“We see this as a necessary cost to ensure all uniformed officers who may interact with the public have access to a working camera at all times and that body-worn video does not create a substantial new labour burden for existing staff and officers.”
Halifax Regional Police’s report comes after the Halifax police commission requested two separate studies into the feasibility of a pilot project regarding body-worn cameras for HRP and Halifax District RCMP officers in July.
The request was put forward after an online petition, calling on the police force to adopt body cameras to increase accountability and protect citizens from discrimination and mistreatment, received more than 100,000 signatures in June.