Bringing in body cams for Vancouver police is "timely and warranted"

Dec 1 2022, 12:10 am

The ABC Vancouver campaign promise to equip Vancouver police officers with body cams has moved to the next step, as the City of Vancouver has brought forward a motion in hopes of equipping officers with the tool by 2025.

According to the motion by ABC councillor Lenny Zhou, the City will direct the mayor to write to the Vancouver Police Board on behalf of City Council to indicate support for implementing a “Body Worn Camera” (BWC) program.

Based on the 2015-2016 IIO Annual Report, the motion states that BWC footage “would have potentially assisted in resolving 93% of the investigations sooner and potentially led to corresponding cost savings, as well as reducing stress for complainants and respondent officers.”

Given that the RCMP is currently rolling out a nationwide BWC program, along with the provincial government’s endorsement of BWC for police departments in the province, the opportunity for Mayor and Council to support and otherwise take steps to enable the VPD to implement BWC for all frontline and patrol officers by 2025, is timely and warranted,” reads the motion.

About six years ago, the VPD estimated a one-time cost of $17 million to fully equip its officers with body-worn cameras.

This includes the cost of acquiring the cameras and the cost of software and data storage, which account for the vast majority of the cost estimate. But it does not cover maintenance and other expenses related to retrieving footage for court use.

One point revealed in the motion is that although VPD has 1,348 sworn officers, only 800 are assigned to frontline duties. The motion notes that not all of those officers are on duty simultaneously, and only those on duty would be equipped.

The motion also states that VPD Chief Adam Palmer is in support of the BWC program as a provincial policing standard as a tool to help strengthen public trust and confidence in police.

Vancouver police recently asked the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Board to approve an 11% budget hike for next year. Still, it would likely need to see another hike the following year to allow for the cost of implementing body cams.

City staff will be working with the VPD and “relevant partners and stakeholders” to determine the cost to sustain a BWC program for all VPD frontline and patrol officers by 2025. Staff should report back to council with information and recommendations in early 2024.

The motion adds that the VPD has over a million contacts with the public every year, which includes around 240,000 calls for service every year, or 650 calls per day.

With ABC holding a majority of the seats in City Council, the motion is expected to see approval.

With files from Kenneth Chan

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