Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir
The SPVM had launched in 2016 its pilot project of portable cameras for police officers. Experience has not proved conclusive, was held by the police.
Even if the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) do not judge concluding the pilot-project of portable cameras for police officers, the leader of the opposition at City hall, Lionel Perez, believes that the administration should equip all police officers of this equipment.
In June 2015, the coroner Paul G. Dionne had recommended the wearing of cameras for police after the investigation into the death of Robert Hénault, who died during a police intervention. Several studies have also indicated that the cameras could reduce the use of force and improve the safety of police officers and citizens.
For nearly a year, from may 2016 to April 2017, 78 patrol boats of the SPVM have worn small cameras in a work context. The pilot project has been deployed to the Module of the movement south, to the Section of the metro, as well as three positions in the district, that is, those of Lachine, Plateau Mont-Royal and Montréal-Nord.
A directive stated that the police absolutely had to turn on their camera during interventions and that they should inform the citizens concerned. They should, however, suspend or cancel registration in certain circumstances, such as when a method of investigation could be disclosed or that the police were in some places, like public toilets or places of worship.
A cost of 24 million
The SPVM has reviewed the administrative data and conducted surveys with participants. He concludes that the use of cameras has not had the desired effect, to defuse tense situations involving citizens to the ” problematic behaviour “.
We sincerely believe that this will lead to more transparency, increasing the confidence with the population, as well as the safety of police officers
— Lionel Perez
According to the SPVM, the cameras had no impact on the use of force by police officers, or on the number of assaults committed by citizens against police officers.
“The experience of the project has not allowed us to demonstrate unequivocally that the portable cameras will promote transparency of law enforcement interventions, to consolidate the relationship of trust between the police officer and the citizen and ensure the safety of police officers,” says the SPVM.
Some 89 per cent of police officers surveyed had the feeling of being monitored. Many have seen in this equipment an ” intrusion, a lack of trust and an invasion of their privacy at work “, expressing concerns that the video records are used against them. A majority of police officers have also held that the cameras dépersonnalisaient their interactions with citizens.
The SPVM also notes that, in many cases, the records are fragmentary due to rules to follow. The use of cameras also raises questions about the disclosure or non-records in the case of contentious situations.
The deployment of hand-held cameras on all police montreal would cost $ 24 million per year and would require a staff of 202 persons / year additional, specific to the SPVM.
Despite the reluctance of the SPVM, Lionel Perez believes that, on the contrary, all police officers should be equipped with cameras and equipment. “We sincerely believe that this will lead to more transparency, increasing the confidence with the population, as well as the safety of police officers,” explained Mr. Perez.
He pointed out that according to the report, 90 % of people consider that this measure increases the trust in the police and transparency. It has also been reported that a majority of police officers assured him that they were very comfortable with the cameras for as much as it does heavier not unduly to their workload. “Human nature makes it so that the police do not want to be police. They do not want to be monitored. But we think that, precisely, it shows that the way they act is different when there is a camera. “
Lionel Perez recognizes that the cost could be high : “But there is a cost to doing nothing. There are issues of racial profiling. The transparency and the trust of the public do not have a price. “
The head of the Whole Montreal recalled that there had been consensus among elected officials, including projet Montréal, to equip all police officers with cameras.
The results of the pilot project will be presented by the SPVM at a public sitting of the Commission of public safety Friday morning at the Montreal city hall. The office of the mayor Plant, it indicates that the administration will take up a position in the light of the Commission’s work.