Human rights groups express fears about use of body-worn cameras by RCMP

They call on the RCMP to do four things

Human rights groups express fears about use of body-worn cameras by RCMP

The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), the Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC), and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) have sent an open letter to the RCMP voicing their concerns about its body-worn cameras project.

While the organizations recognized body-worn cameras as a step towards accountability and transparency in policing, it repeated publicly supported calls for the RCMP to invest directly in communities and address systemic racism and inequality instead of policing budgets.

The organizations called on the RCMP to take an evidence-based approach in the funding of body-worn cameras and in measuring the success of the project; to ensure that policies and procedures regarding these cameras are accessible to the public and well-defined; to develop clear and accessible privacy guidelines; and to establish an independent mechanism and process to ensure accountability.

The open letter also reiterated some reservations the organizations previously expressed in the presentation detailing the BWC project to national community groups held last May 17. These included reservations about officers having the discretion to deactivate their body-worn cameras in certain situations based on their “reasonable belief” and assessment. LEAF, BLAC, and CAEFs feared the potential impact of these discretionary decisions on marginalized communities, saying these would nullify any initial success body-worn cameras would have in reducing police use of force.

The organizations said that if the project did not achieve its goals of increased accountability and transparency, it should be reviewed and reassessed – in a meaningful manner, including community participation – and rolled back in its entirety if needed.

The open letter can be read here.

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