Ottawa Police chief to consider body cameras for officers

Ottawa’s police chief says he will take a fresh look at the possibility of his officers wearing body cameras amid calls for increased police accountability.

Peter Sloly told CTV Morning Live on Tuesday he will soon be briefed on the business case for the cameras.

The Ottawa Police service last considered body cameras when it approved a pilot project in 2016. However, no Ottawa Police officers currently wear body cameras.

Sloly said he’s going to be briefed on the matter “very shortly, and I will reconsider the position of the Ottawa Police Service in regards to that.

“If it looks like a viable case, I will bring it forward to the board to consider the cost implications and the policy issues.”

Sloly was sworn in as chief in October. As a deputy chief in the Toronto Police Service, Sloly wrote the business case for a body camera pilot project there.

On Tuesday, he warned body cameras are a ‘significant investment,’ both for the cameras themselves and the associated software. Along with the high cost, there are also concerns around privacy and data management.

There are renewed calls for police-worn body cameras in some Canadian cities amid a North America-wide outcry for increased police accountability following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

In Toronto, where 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet fell 24 storeys to her death last Wednesday while police were present, Chief Mark Saunders told reporters he is “fast-tracking” his police force’s plan to equip officers with body-worn cameras.

On Monday, the mayor of a Montreal borough called for police there to start wearing body cameras.

The Ottawa Police Association has long been in favour of body cameras.

Sloly said Tuesday the cameras are not on his wish list, but they are on the list of items he will consider.

“We will consider everything we can to improve public trust, to protect officers against unfair allegations, and to increase the quality of interaction between our members and members of the community we serve and protect.”