Wellington County OPP rolling out body-worn cameras

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Body-worn cameras are being rolled out in Wellington County for OPP officers over the next two years.

“Right now, it’s in the pilot phase; we have one detachment in West Region piloting and then our [emergency response team] members locally are also wearing body-worn cameras,” OPP inspector Paul Richardson told the Police Services Board on Sept. 8.

Richardson’s report to the committee stated, “This new technology will be quite advantageous for the Court Bureau and the officers as well as victims and witnesses as it allows members investigating to complete victim and witness statements on audio/video at the time of the occurrence while the events are fresh in the minds of the involved persons.”

An example of an Axon brand body-worn camera commonly used by police services in North America. (Photo used under Creative Commons license)

The cameras are also expected to increase transparency and accountability, the report stated.

Police will have to inform members of the public when they are being recorded and “built-in artificial intelligence” will allow for “blurring” or “scrubbing” of people recorded but not directly involved in a situation.

“Only persons involved in a criminal incident will be on the [body-worn camera] footage once it has been vetted,” the report says.

Richardson did not get into specifics about things like:

  • policies dictating when body cameras are to be turned on and if officers have discretion on when to record;
  • if body cameras indicate they’re recording;
  • if the public can decline to be recorded;
  • how long video footage is retained and how;
  • the direct and associated costs of the cameras; and
  • when regular road officers are expected to be equipped.

Richardson told the committee the agency is “excited” to have the technology.

“It’s going to be what we call an extra piece of kit for our folks,” he said.