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Listen up, DRPS

lance goosen cartoon

(Cartoon by Lance Goosen)

Police have been in the headlines as residents look for methods to hold them more accountable and to promote transparency.

As Americans look to address police brutality in their country, many municipalities across Canada are looking to do the same. One such method on the minds of many is body-worn cameras.

Durham Regional Police Services (DRPS) recently reconvened the Body-Worn Camera team to finalize a pilot project report and to bring a plan to regional council.

DRPS conducted a year-long body-worn camera pilot from June 2018 to June 2019 where 80 officers were outfitted with cameras.

It resulted in 26,600 videos being collected and 32 per cent of the videos were categorized as evidence, while 30 per cent have been or will be used in criminal and provincial offences trials.

Those numbers alone should advocate for the use of body-worn cameras.

However, outgoing Police Chief Paul Martin refused to comment on his position, saying he believes there are other, more effective ways to ensure police accountability.

But the community in Durham has spoken and it’s time DRPS and regional council listen.

Body-worn cameras are a safe way to hold police accountable. If there is a violent incident where a police officer uses excessive force, video evidence can provide positive proof of the altercation.

If a police officer is not at fault, this video can also be used as evidence to prove their innocence.

Simply put, body-worn cameras don’t just benefit the public, they benefit the police as well. It works both ways.

While some can argue against the cameras in favour of harsher disciplinary actions for police, it’s a tired system that has proven flaws.

It’s time police and regional council listen. Residents want better accountability and transparency from police, and body-worn cameras are a step in that direction.