Cop body cam maker objects to SPVM report

The Montreal police department may be saying no to body cameras, but the manufacturer of those cameras is saying hold the phone.

In its final report following a yearlong pilot project the SPVM said the cameras are too heavy, expensive, are difficult to use and have limited benefits.

According to the Montreal police report, it would cost $17.4 million over five years to outfit 3,000 patrollers with body cameras. Axon, the company that supplied the cameras for the pilot project, said there are other options.

Vishal Dhir, Axon's Executive Director for Canada, said there are different pricing options; some as low as $1.25 million a year for five years, but the SPVM chose to work with the most expensive.

As for SPVM's claim it would need about $24 million a year in personnel costs to maintain the system, download and catalogue the footage recorded by the cameras, Dhir said that is exaggerated. He added his company recently signed a deal in London for 22,000 cameras (compared to Montreal's 3,000) and only a handful of extra people were hired. Similar situations can be found in Los Angeles, Chicago and Calgary.

Dhir said one of the problems was that during the pilot project, Montreal police officers had to download and catalogue all of the footage from their cameras manually, even though the system was created with the technology that allows all of the work to be done automatically.

The Montreal police department will present its report and make its recommendations at a Public Safety Commission meeting on Friday. Axon intends to present its counter to the report. It will then be up to City officials to determine if the body camera project will move forward or end here.