Municipal politicians demand body cameras for SPVM officers

A body camera on a Toronto police officer.

Anjou Mayor Luis Miranda, Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand and Anjou councillor Andrée Hénault, mandated by 30 local community groups, are demanding the purchase of body cameras for police officers.

“Last year, faced with the continued incomprehensible refusal by the Montreal administration to follow the lead of other big city police departments and acquire body cameras, four borough councils adopted motions asking for a rapid and permanent roll out of these important tools,” their statement says. “In response, the administration of Mayor Valérie Plante said it would re-examine its past position, which was an unequivocal refusal to obtain body cameras. Yet as we enter 2021, nothing has happened and there is still no plan on the horizon.”

The three politicians pointed out that most major city police departments have committed to equipping their officers with body cameras.

“Montreal is in a distinct minority of cities that have not. Body cameras have become a normal tool in the day-to-day work of police departments and are essential in building public trust in police — community relations. Every police officer in New York City is equipped with a body camera and Toronto is moving in the same direction.

“For that reason, we are demanding that the city administration release a plan to equip the entire police force with body cameras. We reject the notion of another pilot project and believe Montrealers are ready for a decisive decision in this regard.”

Miranda, Rotrand and Hénault are also proposing that:

• “A force-wide body camera program equipping all officers rather than another pilot project begin within the next six months.”

• “Race Based Data Collection Policy be an essential element of the eventual new street check policy.”

• “An annual reporting mechanism be created that allows city council and the general public to assess whether systemic bias is a factor in the interactions of the SPVM with minorities.”

“In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the Black Lives Matter movement, a public debate engulfed much of North America in 2020 with demands for reforms that assure the public that policing is professional and will treat every citizen in an equal and colour-blind manner,” the three wrote. “Over the past year, Montrealers have marched in the streets demanding changes that assure everyone that our police force is a model that others will want to emulate. Montrealers want to eradicate bias and profiling from our police department and they want an effective community policing strategy as the model for the delivery of public security services in our city.”

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