Quebec provincial police to take part in body camera pilot project

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Quebec provincial police will take part in a body camera pilot project, Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said Wednesday.

Guilbault told reporters details of the plan will be announced in the coming days and will involve provincial police officers stationed in four regions. Police based in Rimouski, about 300 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, will be the first to take part, she added.

"I think it was important to address the issue with pilot projects that will give us conclusions whether or not we should use them officially and how we should use them," Guilbault said.

Montreal's police force was the first in Quebec to participate in a body camera pilot project, between May 2016 and April 2017. The force concluded in a 2019 report the cameras had little impact on police interventions, created logistical issues and left officers feeling like they were under surveillance.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, however, has said recently she's in favour of police wearing body cameras and that she is open to Montreal taking part in the provincial pilot project.

The Opposition at city hall called for police to be equipped with body cameras following the wrongful arrest of Mamadi III Fara Camara earlier this year. Camara spent six days in detention after a police officer was allegedly disarmed and attacked with his own service weapon on Jan. 28. Police ultimately exonerated Camara and in late March, arrested another person in connection with the case.

The pilot project run by the Quebec government will involve provincial police only. Guilbault said there is a lot to consider regarding police body cameras, including storing footage captured by the cameras and the costs associated with outfitting officers.

Calgary was the first large Canadian police force to have adopted the technology; officers in that city were equipped with body cameras in 2019.

The Toronto Police Service has said it intends to outfit officers with body cameras this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press