Toronto Police begin body worn video trial with Reveal cameras
Officers in Toronto will be using Reveal body worn cameras from Monday as part of a trial that will determine which body camera provider will be chosen for their project.
Starting May 18, the cameras will be worn by officers from the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy Rapid Response Teams, 43 Division Community Response Unit, 55 Division Primary Response Unit and the Traffic Services Motor Squad.
External and internal reports, including the PACER report that dealt with community engagement, and the Police Encounters with People in Crisis report by Justice Iacobucci, recommended that body-worn technology be utilized for enhancing police transparency for all parties involved.
“This body-worn technology will give transparency to interactions that police have with the community, will build on, and strengthen, relationships we have with the community,” said Staff Sergeant Michael Barsky, the Operations lead for the project. In the lead-up to the project, all officers wearing BWCs are required to go through extensive training, including classroom theory sessions, dynamic scenarios and a day of mock trials using the video from their BWCs.
“The training provides the officers with the legal tools, the skills of the technology and the insights required for a court of law. We are trying to build confidence and skill-sets so, when they do engage with the community using this very new technology, they can do so with confidence, that they can use it as part of their toolbox to provide best evidence to the courts,” said Barsky.
“In going back to the station, and back to the field, I feel confident understanding when I can activate the body-worn camera and when not to activate it,” said Sergeant Phillip Handsor, of the 55 Division Primary Response Unit, who had just gone through the training.
“The training is very high-quality. They’ve answered all of our questions, they’ve set us at ease in doing the scenarios. The trial aspect of it really puts it in place so we understand where we are coming from, what our authorities are, and where we stand,” added Handsor.
All body-worn cameras are “on” when an officer is on duty, but they must be activated for the camera to start recording. The reason for this feature is because each activation of the recording allows the cameras to include the preceding 30 seconds to a minute. Barsky said this can be helpful in circumstances when an officer thinks the nature of interaction is becoming investigatory and needs to be recorded to give better context to the scenario.