St. Thomas police bodycams start rolling Thursday
Published Wednesday, September 30, 2020 6:40PM EDT
LONDON, ONT. -- St. Thomas police launch a new body camera pilot project first thing Thursday morning. It’s a way to help restore public trust in law enforcement in general, which has eroded in recent years.
Local merchant Timothy Van Dusen, who runs Swipe Right Repairs on Talbot Street says from what he has seen police are always active in the city’s downtown.
“There’s not one day I step outside here that there isn’t a mental health patient screaming at city hall or somewhere down the street and I see officers and a mental health worker coming, trying to resolve the issue.”
Twelve cameras have been provided by Axon, a company that supplies law enforcement with safety and technical gear. Six cameras per shift will be deployed, while the other six will be recharged and have their data downloaded.
Police spokesperson Tanya Calvert says the cameras will offer an “objective” view of both sides of a situation.
“We’re always looking for ways to increase our relationship with the community, and enhance transparency and public trust.”
Downtown shop owner Marty Hancox of Fan of the Sport, says he thinks the cameras will provide added safety for both the officer and civilians.
“I see them every day walking the streets and now with the cameras, they’re doing their job and they don’t have to worry about something they didn’t say or didn’t do or whatnot.”
Not everyone likes the idea of having more cameras trained on them. “I don’t think it’s a very good idea,” said resident Jeff Glover. “It’s just getting too personal.”
Even though it’s a trial run, body camera footage can still be used in investigations and in court, said Calvert.
“It will capture the data by video recording, then we’ll be able to transfer that evidence to the courts very quickly.”
As for Timothy Van Dusen, he said he doesn’t know if the body cameras will help or hinder, but he likes that police are giving them a try.
“They’re trying to fix the city. They’re trying to make it better.”
The pilot runs for four months, wrapping up at the end of January, 2021. Police say it won’t be decided until some time next year as to whether body cameras become a permantent part of police officers’ gear.