I recently had the opportunity to attend a Police Services Board meeting in Hamilton, during which your Chief of Police Eric Girt dismissed the value of body worn cameras. Mr. Girt spoke of some rather bizarre rationale, including Hollywood film, to explain why body worn cameras are not value added for the public. I have come to expect little else from a Chief who's ascent through the ranks was boosted, or rather created, by cronyism and nepotism.
While this strange display by Mr. Girt was ongoing, an attendee at the meeting stood up and shouted his displeasure. This man was Norm Dorr, who is a family member of the late Steve Mesic. Mr. Mesic was shot and killed by Hamilton Police officers in 2013.
It would seem that Mr. Dorr remained intimately interested and involved in the outcome of that shooting, which would go on to have an inquest of its own. One point that was raised by the jury in the inquest for the shooting of Mr. Mesic, was for the Hamilton Police Service to study the Toronto Police Service for guidance and body worn cameras.
Here is a link for the full inquest verdict and explanation.
I'd like to draw your attention to section 5 within the verdict, the exact wording below:
5. We recommend that the Hamilton Police Service study the results of the current project piloted by Toronto Police Services with respect to lapel cameras. If the results warrant, then we recommend the program be introduced to Hamilton Police Service.
Coroner’s comment: The jury heard testimony regarding the potential benefits of lapel-mounted cameras to capture the events of critical incidents, but the jury also heard about the limitations of and concerns with these cameras. The jury has taken a cautious approach in recommending that any local decisions be made prudently and be evidence-based.
That's rather clear. The Toronto Police Service is much larger than is the Hamilton Police Service, and the jury recommended the Hamilton Police Service to follow the lead of the TPS. Establishing a logical pathway from here is quite easy, let's see what the TPS says regarding the use of body worn cameras.
Here is a link to a cached web page from the TPS regarding body worn cameras.
Of particular note is this passage:
Body-worn cameras are unbiased, reliable eyewitnesses to community interactions with the police. They will provide reassurance to community members and police officers.
Exactly. I've been saying the same thing since I was a police officer in Hamilton. Body worn cameras are intrinsically a value added option for both the public and the police. From hearing the gripes of serving police officers who oppose these cameras, most of the underpinnings of their concerns are corrected by not being lazy. Hard work, being knowledgeable, maintaining composure and a sales oriented approach would inherently assist all police officers who are in the midst of a staffing and morale crisis. Of course, the public stands to benefit, as does the notion of accountability with regards to use of force incidents.
With that, Mr. Dorr's overt disappointment is completely understandable. The inquest into the shooting death of his family member suggested the above, with only to have Mr. Eric Girt summarily dismiss the same. During Eric Girt's explanation, none of it included anything similar to which is suggested by the TPS. Eric Girt's dismissal of body worn cameras brings into question the value of holding inquests, the results of which can so easily be dismissed by police managers.
While the Hamilton Police management hides being layers of hack lawyers, counting the days until pension, reality is clear. Eric Girt and his ilk don't have interest in what I believe is the core function of police officers - to serve the public.
- Josh Coulter
I have spoken at length about police use of force incidents on my website at www.apieceofmoney.com. Many of these reviews wouldn't be possible without the existence of body worn camera footage.