Police-worn body cameras have been rolling out in jurisdictions all over Ontario. Today, the Toronto Police's body cameras were unveiled to the public in a show-and-tell press conference. The unveiling also came with an interesting caveat — a list of scenarios in which the police are allowed to turn the body cameras off.
Monday's press conference was led by Toronto Police Deputy Chief Shawna Coxon.
Coxon praised the technology, saying, "[the cameras] are objective. They record what's going on in the moment from both sides."
She also added that there are a number of scenarios in which it would be appropriate to have officers turn theirs off.
This list includes situations in which there are minors present, if someone is exposed or naked, or when "people don't want to be filmed [in] a sensitive situation."
Coxon said that officers will have to use their judgement as to when to turn the devices off.
“It’s highly contextual,” she continued.
She also noted that in Canada, body camera footage cannot be released immediately, like it is in the United States.
This is due to different privacy measures, and that this will only happen in exigent circumstances.
She also clarified that any officer found to have turned a body camera off when it was not necessary will face a penalty of one day's worth of pay cut.
Coxon said the public can expect at least 2,300 Toronto police officers to be wearing them by the end of fall 2021.
There has been support on both sides of the debate when it comes to the devices and law enforcement.
On the other hand, prominent individuals like Toronto activist and journalist Desmond Cole, have spoken out against the motion, citing the proposal as just another hoop the city will jump through without enacting real change.
today @johntory and @tpsboard will meet to do what they always do: give the police more money and power. the propos… https://t.co/7Ahs8nLMrT— negro frolics (@negro frolics)1597769692.0
Coxon acknowledged that change needs to happen within the Toronto Police Service.
"We have a lot of work to do with respect to systemic issues," she said. "This is one piece, one measure of accountability of a much broader transformation platform."