Body-worn cameras are quickly becoming standard in police forces across America and Canada, but there’s one big hold out: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
In a statement sent to journalists Wednesday afternoon, the RCMP confirmed that “it will postpone a force-wide implementation until such time as available technology can meet its specific operational requirements.”
This comes after years of studying the body-worn cameras by the RCMP. Limited research into the devices does suggest that they can help combat police brutality and assist in investigating officer-involved shootings — but it can also help officers beat vexatious complaints, and help convict criminals.
But it’s not an effectiveness question that gave the RCMP pause. It was the technology, and the cost.
“The potential implementation of BWC would require that the RCMP purchase thousands of units to be distributed in over 750 detachments. The RCMP needs to have confidence in the product and ensure that the choice of technology justifies the investment of tax payer’s money,” the release says.
Body-worn cameras have been common for years in American police departments. As of 2013, one-third of local police departments were outfitted with the cameras.
And the RCMP even appeared to have a device in mind. When VICE News looked into a request for information posted by the police agency in 2015, the specifications posted by the police appeared to match perfectly with Axon, a camera set-up manufactured by stun-gun maker Taser.
The police force worried about durability and battery life, something the Axon claimed to have addressed.
The RCMP had already tried the Canadian-made CruiserCam the year prior, but ultimately decided not to buy the equipment.
It seems the RCMP will deploy body-worn cameras in some circumstances, but apparently only in special operations.
While the RCMP mainly deal with nationally oriented policing, they also serve as local law enforcement throughout the country, especially on Indigenous reserves.
Between 2010 and 2014, RCMP officers have shot and killed 28 individuals under various circumstances. The police force, which does manage a database of all of use-of-force incidents involving its officers, refused to disclose any further information to VICE News, even under an Access to Information request.