NEWS
02/18/2014 12:57 EST | Updated 04/20/2014 05:59 EDT

Toronto Police to test wearing cameras on their lapels

Toronto police officers will soon be wearing lapel-mounted cameras in a test that’s being touted as a way toward greater transparency by some and met by concern by others.

Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack told CBC’s Metro Morning today the union wants to make sure there is real value in the project before endorsing it.

“What are we trying to capture here? That is the conversation we need to have before we endorse the project in any way,”  McCormack said, adding that a full cost benefit analysis must be completed before its worth is seen.

There are many variables with the installation of the cameras — smartphone-sized devices attached to the lapels of the officer’s’ uniform — including expense and data storage.

The project was recommended by a 2013 police and community engagement review that expressed concern about bias in police checks and interaction with the public.

Last week’s inquest into the death’s of three mentally ill people shot by police also contributed to the project’s green light.

The deaths of Reyal Jardine-Douglas Sylvia Klibingaitis and Michael Eligon were ruled homicides. Each was holding a sharp object when they were shot by police.

The report said the cameras would benefit both the public and police by holding all accountable with additional evidence, and suggests a test-run of the project could be in place by mid-2014.

In a 2013 interview with CBC News, Paul Cook, the president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said video evidence offers "the opportunity to protect officers from false allegations of misconduct, and also provide us with the opportunity to hold our officers accountable if there was misconduct."

The big disadvantage, he added, is the cost of purchasing the technology and maintaining i, a concern shared by McCormack.

“Everything comes down to cost issues, unfortunately," McCormack said. "That’s the reality when you are dealing with taxpayers' dollars.”

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