When Peel police recently announced it would implement body-worn cameras across the force, I heaved a sigh of relief and expected social activists to describe it as a step in the right direction. After all, as Peel Regional Chief Nishan Duraiappah suggested, having video footage of police interaction with the public would increase accountability.
Activists have denounced the move, saying it didn’t go far enough and that police officers could conveniently turn off the camera at a crucial time. Huh?
One activist opposed it saying that a better measure would be to stop cops from killing Black and Indigenous people rather than provide them with expensive cameras. First off such statements are inflammatory, suggesting police swarm troubled neighborhoods targeting people of color for execution is malicious. But maybe the activist was mistaking the spate of targeted gang and drug-fuelled shootings in some GTA neighborhoods to be the handiwork of police.
But activists are adamant that body cameras are nothing but a waste of taxpayers money that won’t improve police accountability in Peel.
What these social activists seem to want is de-policing and defunding the police force.
First off, no one is claiming body cameras will solve the complex issues of policing a multicultural society. But it will provide a lot more clarity in incidents such as the shooting of Ejaz Choudry, a man suffering mental-illness in Malton or Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who fell from the balcony of a Toronto apartment tower in May. In both instances, police were called to help calm these individuals experiencing a mental health meltdown. If police officers responding to these calls for example had worn body cam, footage would dispel or confirm whether they were guilty of murder.
Without body cam, social activists and opportunists can spew venom, spread rumours and propagate hate and suspicion against all law enforcement officers which ends up hurting everyone.