Talks of Regina police wearing body cameras on hold — at least for now

·2 min read
Regina’s board of police commissioners is waiting for the results of the Saskatoon Police Services’s body-worn camera pilot project before making any moves, according to board member and city mayor Sandra Masters. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News - image credit)
Regina’s board of police commissioners is waiting for the results of the Saskatoon Police Services’s body-worn camera pilot project before making any moves, according to board member and city mayor Sandra Masters. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News - image credit)

Regina's board of police commissioners is still weighing the cost and benefits of buying body-worn cameras for officers.

According to a report put before the board in November 2021, the initial cost of a single body-worn camera runs roughly $2,700. The total start-up cost for equipment — including 300 cameras — would be about $1 million and the program would cost about $1,290,000 a year to operate.

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters says that money could be better spent on bolstering the force's front line at this point.

"We know that our patrol officers have some of the highest caseloads in the country, and so it's hard to justify [millions] in body cameras when we're still under-resourced from a personnel perspective," Masters told reporters after Tuesday's board meeting.

"Right now, it would be a 'nice to have.' Is it absolutely necessary? I'm not there yet from the investment perspective."

She added that the city still has to "catch up" with Saskatoon. She referenced Regina's force launching an air support unit — something the Saskatoon Police Service has had for years — this upcoming October.

Masters says Regina's board of police commissioners is also waiting for the results of Saskatoon police's body-worn camera pilot project before making any moves.

Kirk Fraser/CBC News
Kirk Fraser/CBC News

In the meantime, she and Regina Police Chief Evan Bray pointed to a recent report outlining the accountability and oversight measures already in place for Regina police, such as dash cameras in all cruisers and non-police investigative bodies, like the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission.

"Knowing that we have all the other kinds of accountability mechanisms, do we feel that the benefit from body-worn cameras is enough that the investment and the time and resources that we're going to put into it is worth it? That's a future discussion that we'll be having," Bray said.

During Tuesday's meeting, Bray told the board that police officers saw more than 100,000 calls for service, not including traffic stops, last year. Out of those interactions, 100 public complaints were made and "of those, under 10 per cent were substantiated."