As reported by the Canadian website City news everywhere, the Waterloo Regional Police Service South Division launched a large-scale pilot project to install body-worn and in-car video systems a few months ago, as part of an overall modernisation project for the institution.
The pilot project, developed between June 2021 and October 2022 and which deployed body-worn video systems for police officers and inside cars, will now become a permanent fixture following its approval at a police services board meeting last week. The project also includes a mobile phone deployment strategy and a digital evidence management system.
Through members of the police service, trained for the occasion, the purpose of the pilot scheme was to determine the feasibility and capability of the technology to capture evidence while balancing the privacy rights of citizens.
Key performance indicators for the pilot plan focused on both police member and community perceptions, administrative workload, and the impacts of charges and convictions.
The overall aims included exploration of improved police accountability, accurate representation of police interactions with the public, improved public and officer safety, a strengthened commitment to bias-free service delivery, and improved evidence for investigative, judicial, and oversight purposes.
The pilot project also included a consultation with the community and members of the police service through a webinar, a general survey and a direct invitation to the cultural communities in the region.
Police members of various positions felt that there is clear support for promoting a definitive programme to install cameras for police service. The community also felt that this was a good financial investment, that this will improve transparency and that the programme will reinforce the commitment to bias-free policing. And in this way, technology will help create a foundation of trust building for the police with the community.
It was also felt that it will improve transparency with the community, which will help protect them with public complaints and provide evidence for the courts.
Finally, it was decided to make the pilot scheme permanent, as the vast majority of respondents felt that video technology is highly valued as an investment tool to contribute to a transparent, effective and professional policing community.