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Rollout of body cameras for Halifax Regional Police pushed back another year

Chief Dan Kinsella of the Halifax Regional Police answers questions from reporters at HRP headquarters on Gottingen Street on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Kinsella addressed the three recent police officer arrests.
Chief Dan Kinsella of the Halifax Regional Police answers questions from reporters at HRP headquarters on Gottingen Street in October 2019. - Ryan Taplin
HALIFAX, N.S. —

Halifax Regional Police officers most likely won’t be wearing body cameras for at least another year. 

On Monday, the police force’s proposed rollout of deployment in the fall or winter was deferred by the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners. 

As requested by the board in December, Halifax Regional Police presented its draft policy framework around the technology, which included when the body-worn cameras would be used. 

According to a supplementary report on body-worn technology, Halifax Regional Police officers wearing body-worn cameras will not record their entire shift.

The police force “will specify the situations in which body-worn video will be deployed.” 

Commissioner Carlos Beals said he believes body-worn cameras will “build back some of the trust and confidence that have eroded in decades of Black folks and racialized folks being mistreated.” 

“This, I think, will hopefully give the public some calmness and feeling of comfort knowing their interactions with police are being recorded,” Beals said. 


Newly elected chairman Lindell Smith says he doesn't believe the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners can allow Halifax Regional Police to move forward with body-worn cameras without having the proper policies in place. - File
Newly elected chairman Lindell Smith says he doesn't believe the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners can allow Halifax Regional Police to move forward with body-worn cameras without having the proper policies in place. - File

While the cameras are to be turned on for “all calls for service and any other interactions with the public where officers may ask for personal information, such as traffic stops,” officers will be exempted from recording requirements under “specific circumstances.” 

For example, if an officer’s recording “could create a safety risk for police or members of the public,” they would be exempt from the recording requirements. 

This also applies during interviews or interactions within a police facility, when interacting with a confidential informant and during planned community interactions, such as visits to schools or participation in public events.

What if an officer doesn’t turn their body-worn camera on when they should have?

“If a video is not recorded when one should otherwise have been, officers will be required to report all reasons why the camera was not used,” the draft policy framework says. 

But according to the commissioners, more work needs to be done on Halifax Regional Police’s body-worn camera policies, and it should include community consultation. 

Newly elected chairman Lindell Smith, one of three Halifax regional councillors on the board, said while many are interested in having the technology in their community, they want to make sure the policy is right. 

“I really believe we can’t move forward with this without having these policies in place,” Smith said. 

“I am fearful what body-worn cameras could be perceived to do and not actually deal with the issues that we want them to deal with when it comes to racism and etcetera.” 

The supplementary report also noted “very little is known about whether body-worn video deployment has any impact on systemic racism or improved outcomes for racialized groups and individuals.” 


Halifax Regional Police's five-phase proposal for body-worn video. - Contributed
Halifax Regional Police's five-phase proposal for body-worn video. - Contributed

Commissioner Carole McDougall voiced she was concerned about how the new technology would fit into the budget, especially after conversations on defunding the police and the financial impacts COVID-19 has had on Halifax Regional Municipality. 

It’s estimated the technology costs would be $795,000 for the first year, with an annual licensing and operating cost of $380,000 in the following years. 

Over a five-year period, it would come to a cost of $3.71 million total, factoring in capital, operating and labour costs. 

After some discussion, it was agreed that Halifax Regional Police will return to the board with a work plan, further policy developments and a privacy impact assessment. 

While a deferral doesn’t disqualify body-worn cameras from being included in the 2021-2022 budget, it’s projected the purchases and implementation of the body-worn cameras for Halifax Regional Police won’t be until 2022-2023. 

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