Altering Canadian Policing Procedure/Make Body Cams Mandatory!
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It is clear to us now, as we enter June 2020, that the need for transparency far outweighs the privacy & cost concerns of body worn cameras (BWC) in the police force. The discussion should no longer be whether to implement, but how best to implement. There is currently no standard for body worn cameras and police in Canada. We believe mandatory body cameras should be worn by all on-duty police officers in all jurisdictions of Canada (as well as the United States of America, but we are Canadian and we must start the groundwork where we live).
The opposing argument - abolishing & defunding the police - is not opposing for us! We support the notion that people are not inherently criminal, and given the origins of policing, we support dismantling the police and re-allocating funds to alternate sectors. Our belief, however, is in alignment with Black Lives Matter co-founder Sandy Hudson in regards to defunding - create a new front-line emergency service where health experts, social workers and those trained to deal with mental health crisis, not police, are called. In addition, parring down the police to a tactical unit that responds to ongoing crime only.
Body Cameras worn by police (and cell phone footage captured by the public) has continually shown us the unbiased side of any story. The truthful side. The public outcry regarding the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd is largely due to their murders being captured on camera. Often, without video footage, the response is nominal; the life of the victim forgotten. But what about when there is footage, and the officer still walks? What about the fact that body cameras can be turned off, the fact that there are no policies protecting the footage, the fact that previous trials say violence won't decrease even if they're implemented?
We must address the legislations and policies that govern body cameras, and the police force itself:
- POLICE TRAINING
We need to address: excessive force, misconduct, harassment
- POLICE PUNISHMENT
We need to address: harsher punishment and criminal charges for excessive force, misconduct, harassment
- LESS FUNDING
We need to address: excessive force shows money being used disproportionately on weapons and access/not training; police should not be handling: mental health issues/social services issues - $1 Billion Budget for 2020, but the people are not pleased with the services (in any other business, this warrants revisiting the business model)
- BODY CAMS
We need to address: on/off switches, controlling the cameras, footage access (a thought: lawyers and legal aid counsel on behalf of the public/a victim, should be the only ones accessing body cam data - not even other police/supervisors), very harsh punishment using footage to convict/or for tampering with hardware/footage
- SMALLER POLICE FORCE
We need to address: reversing the inner workings of excessive crime control (like the 1994 crime bill) in Canada/US - reversing: 3 Strikes Mandate, number of officers per region, death penalty etc.
Punishment was once PUNITIVE, but must be restored to: REHABILITATIVE & PREVENTATIVE.
Here are some POSITIVE effects of implementing mandatory body cameras:
- Increase safety of the public and the police (#1 priority)
- Transparency, accountability
- Minimize police brutality/monitor heated situations
- Lessen false accusations of misconduct
- Enhanced public trust, improved police behaviour
- Relatively unobtrusive
- Useful prosecution evidence
- Increase number of citations and arrests; reduced force (by the book)
What about some NEGATIVE effects of implementing mandatory body cams? And how might we overcome those challenges?
- Officers still approach their job with natural instinct (so excessive force may still be used, however if an example is made of these officers, a precedent can be set)
- The camera doesn't see everything the officer sees (of course)
- The officer sees things the camera does not (of course)
- You must know the context of the footage (of course)
- Costs & privacy concerns
- Data storage concerns
Our tax dollars pay for tear gas, riot gear and rebuilding economies when people react to unjust treatment. If we focus on the treatment of people, and create transparency where it pertains to the police, we will be ahead!
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders steps down, 3 days after kneeling with protestors!
Body Worn Cam Regulations in the US (2017)
Canadian Cops Resistant To Body Cams
Camera Cost Dispute in Montreal
The Controversial Clinton Crime Bill of 1994
Contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, or simply want to help with the cause. We are just people; seemingly 'powerless' civilians, but we can use our knowledge, platforms, and strength in numbers, to incite change!
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