Barrie police will begin the roll out of body-worn cameras to its frontline officers next month.
Staff-Sgt. Dave Goodbrand tells Barrie 360 it’s about three hours of training per officer to learn about the camera, learn about the features, how to use it and the expectations around procedures.
Goodbrand said the training of 150 frontline officers should be completed by September.
“The main reason we’re going to body-cams is we want to create transparency with the public in the day-to-day interactions with our officers,” he explained.
The Barrie Police Service outfitted 25 officers with body-worn cameras during a four-to-five-month pilot project and Goodbrand said the feedback was positive from the start.
“When we had to remove them after completing the pilot, many sent messages saying they were looking forward to getting the cameras back.”
The officers will self-activate their cameras during all interactions when they are out in the course of their duties going to calls for service.
The Axon cameras can also self-trigger during specific policing situations.
“It’s also triggered when a taser is powered on,” said Goodbrand. “It has a device built within the battery.”
“When they trigger their emergency lights and sirens, it will also trigger any body-worn cameras in a circumference of that vehicle.”
Officers sidearms will be outfitted so when they draw their gun from their holster it will also trigger the camera.
“All of these are critical because in many cases when you are deploying a taser, drawing your firearm or stopping a vehicle, it could be a high-risk situation where an officer may forget to trigger the camera,” Goodbrand explained.
He said best evidence will also be captured by the cameras because when a situation is recorded and the case goes to court, there is a better picture of what occurred.
Body-cam footage will also be collected and used for continued training to help officers do what they do.
With cameras, said Goodbrand, comes privacy issues, not just for the public but even for officers.
“When we are in a public place conducting an investigation, the body-camera will roll and we will let people know that a camera is rolling, but we will continue to record.”
If police go to a private residence to take a statement or conduct an investigation, police will let people know they are being recorded and request that the interaction continue to be recorded in that setting.
“If people don’t want us to record then we will turn off the cameras,” said Goodbrand.
The program will cost taxpayers $1.5 million over nine years.