Police Body Cameras
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Quebec Committee Studies Police Body Cameras

A new provincial committee has begun studying the possibility of introducing police body cameras for officers.

The committee, set up by Public Safety Minister Lise Thériault had its first meeting on the same day a coroner’s report recommended establishing a protocol for cameras during police interventions.

“[The committee] will evaluate the technical and legal implications and decide what to do from there,” said Louise Quintin, spokesperson for the minister.

According to Quintin, the new committee will involve the ministries of justice and public security, the police force and the Quebec National Police Academy.

“We need to let them work,” Quintin said. “They’ll deliver their recommendations in autumn, and from that moment we’ll see what the next steps are.”

In May, Toronto police launched a year-long pilot project involving police body cameras worn by 100 officers.

Body cameras are often criticized as an infringement on privacy and a confidentiality risk in sensitive situations involving children, for example. Minister Lise Thériault told Radio-Canada in May that the government will work to ensure the protection of private information.

On Tuesday, a report by coroner Paul G. Dionne was published concerning the 2013 death of 70-year-old Robert Hénault after he was shot during a police intervention at his home.

According to the report, police were called when Hénault displayed violent behaviour and refused to return to the hospital for a follow-up on a possible lung condition.

“We probably did the best we could on the afternoon of July 26, 2013,” Dionne wrote. “But maybe we could have done better?”

In his analysis, the coroner writes that video footage is beneficial to investigations and has been proven to reduce violent incidents and accusations of police misconduct.

Dionne criticized the aftermath of the investigation into Hénault’s death and the lack of cooperation from investigators, writing that the investigation should have been handled externally.

His report also questions the role of the soon-to-be launched Bureau des enquêtes permanentes (Office of Continuing Investigations), which will investigate the work of officers, saying there should be more emphasis on quality control and better coordination with the coroner.

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