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Montreal Union Wants a Camera On Every Policeman's Uniform 320

Posted by timothy
from the undercover-eh dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Montreal Policemen's Brotherhood is proposing that officers be equipped with uniform-mounted cameras that can be used to record various interactions. The union says in other jurisdictions where police officers are equipped with point-of-view cameras, the use of force by officers and assaults on officers drops by as much as 60%. One system is currently being tested in Edmonton, Alberta."
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Montreal Union Wants a Camera On Every Policeman's Uniform

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  • ok (Score:5, Funny)

    by radiumsoup (741987) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @09:31AM (#43888373)

    ...facing which way?

    • by sosume (680416)

      One on each shoulder should easily give a 270 angle of view. Add a third in the neck collar and we can start working towards our robot policemen overlords.

      • Re:ok (Score:5, Interesting)

        by radiumsoup (741987) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @10:05AM (#43888521)

        my point was perhaps too subtle... the purpose was to acknowledge the ubiquity of mobile video recording devices and the utility they provide while pointing out the apparent change from the traditional "don't film me while I'm working" attitude of most modern police forces. As long as the camera is actively recording the actions of the police, this would be a step forward in ensuring police are better controlled to work within the law. But it only works if they are ALL required to be recorded while on duty. No more double standards with them being allowed to record the public but the public not being allowed to record them.

        • Re:ok (Score:5, Funny)

          by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @10:20AM (#43888571)

          I though you were implying that because they speak French that it might be better to aim the cameras behind them.

        • Re:ok (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AchilleTalon (540925) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @12:31PM (#43889445) Homepage
          The reason behind the embedded cameras on policemen has nothing to do with a better control of their work. It has to do with the fact that in the past months, many embarrassing videos by people using their mobile device to record the scene where released and these videos are not always telling the whole story. So, the policemen themselves prefer to wear and record the scene they are involved in, in case such a video is released they will be able to tell the whole story to the public. Of course, if it is found the policeman himself is not having a proper conduct, it will also be easier to management to assess it and act accordingly. But the main goal is to protect policemen against street videos recorded with mobile device that do not tell the whole story about a particular event.
        • Re:ok (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @05:34PM (#43891333)

          "But it only works if they are ALL required to be recorded while on duty. No more double standards with them being allowed to record the public but the public not being allowed to record them."

          Not just that, but let's make sure there is no more coincidental "Oops... I didn't have my camera on" when things don't go their way.

          I was the victim of that myself once. Video camera was in prominent view, and recording light was on, but when it was time to go to court and describe what the police did, the recording had "mysteriously disappeared". Yeah right.

  • But (Score:4, Funny)

    by JustOK (667959) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @09:34AM (#43888383) Journal

    They only record in French.

  • by paiute (550198) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @09:37AM (#43888403)
    The system turns itself off when the taser comes out of its holster.
    • by CBravo (35450)
      You first taze the camera and then the rest.
      • by iggymanz (596061)

        the rest is best done old-school with a billy club, much more stress relieving and tactile

    • Did you just say off? I would expect it to be off all the time and switch itself on when the taser comes out and we're down to business.

      • It was proposed by the police union, so you can pretty much garuntee that turning it off won't be a big deal to them. It really should be on 100% of the time, but I'm sure it will "break" at all the right times.
    • by cgimusic (2788705)
      The footage gets automatically deleted when requested by someone for a lawsuit against the police.
    • There is no citation or evidence provided that this would be how the system works. If you believe that is something the police might want, fine, but that is different than claiming it is.

      Something isn't "insightful" because you want to agree with it.

      • by HornWumpus (783565) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:10PM (#43889753)

        Look at the history of dash cams. They always 'fail' or tapes are lost when the footage is bad for the cops.

        Until the track record changes it is safe to assume the video will never show the cops applying some 'stick time'. Cops will simply have their hats fall off/shirt pocket flap fall over the camera etc.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Since the system is still in the proposal stage, there can be no reasonable claim that it is implmented in the way described. Therefore it is clear that the original statement was a statement of belief about how it would be implemented.

        It would be nice if there weren't a lot of evidence in support of their attitude.

    • Cynical for a Reason (Score:5, Interesting)

      by neoshroom (324937) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:40PM (#43889955)

      The union says in other jurisdictions where police officers are equipped with point-of-view cameras, the use of force by officers and assaults on officers drops by as much as 60%.

      This sort of tells us what we already knew. That basically most of the force police use already is applied illegally applied or over-applied [knowyourmeme.com]. The camera is forcing police to act more ethically, which reduces their use of force, but also hints that they widely act unethically at present. It isn't unique to Canada. [gawker.com]

  • Loaded camera (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 02, 2013 @09:41AM (#43888417)

    That camera must be one powerful weapon if it has caused such a great reduction in "assaults on officers." I don't suppose it could be that they were making shit up, and now find it more difficult to do so with video evidence? Could this be extrapolated to suggest that a majority of "resisting arrest" charges are entirely bogus?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oconnorcjo (242077) *
      Or perhaps it could be that people don't want to hit a cop now that they know that there is video proof. In some jurisdictions, assaults on police officer charges go nowhere in court (but are supposed to come with real jail time).
      • Re:Loaded camera (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 0111 1110 (518466) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @12:12PM (#43889303)

        What do you mean by "go nowhere"? I was charged with assaulting a police officer in addition to pretty much every other contempt of cop charge and received a very generous plea bargain offer from the prosecutor with no jail time and only 6 months probation. My attorney argued for 3 months and the judge accepted it. I could only assume the generous offer was due to the fact that the prosecutor either didn't believe the cop's bullshit story or felt there wasn't enough evidence to convict me. There were at least 6 or 7 police witnesses who presumably would have backed up the guy's lies if it had gone to trial. So it does seem strange. It may be that even the prosecutors have stopped believing the cops.

      • by number11 (129686)

        Or perhaps it could be that people don't want to hit a cop now that they know that there is video proof. In some jurisdictions, assaults on police officer charges go nowhere in court (but are supposed to come with real jail time).

        The world is a very big place, but I suspect there are very few jurisdictions in North America where "assault on police officer" charges don't go anywhere. It's a standard add-on charge the cops use if they get physical. And when it comes down to your word against the cop's, the cop's version is going to win, whether the cop made it up or not.

        But I do predict that there will be many mysterious camera failures. The fact that they happen just before the cop beats the crap out of somebody will be entirely c

      • Assaults on officers (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Firethorn (177587) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @05:19PM (#43891213) Homepage Journal

        As a counterpoint, I've seen quite a few cases where somebody ends up being charged with 'assaulting an officer' more or less for arguing with him.

        I've seen videos of it. Sure, the person is normally being a douche while running his mouth a mile a minute and is sometimes failing to take action to officer directions that require active movement like 'Turn around', 'get on your knees', etc... But does failing to produce ID count as assaulting a police officer? Threatening a lawsuit? Complaining that the stop is illegal?

        These charges normally end up dropped, but my point would be that if officers think they can get away with charges like this when the interaction is being caught on their car's camera, what are they doing when they don't think they're being video taped?

        Maybe, knowing that they're being recorded, the officers are actually practicing their de-escalation techniques and they're working.

  • by dugancent (2616577) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @09:44AM (#43888425)

    Started about a year ago. They are turned on when the shift starts and can't be turned off until the shift has ended.

    Mounted on a hat above the right ear and they have sound.

    Indiana, by the way.

    • by dfetter (2035)

      Good for you guys! I'm betting this will really improve officer behavior, but only if the penalties for "malfunctions" are severe, e.g. disciplinary actions against the LEO and never pressing charges against anyone during whose arrest a "malfunction" has occurred.

    • Started about a year ago. They are turned on when the shift starts and can't be turned off until the shift has ended.

      Mounted on a hat above the right ear and they have sound.

      Indiana, by the way.

      This is absolutely needed. The powers that be forget far too often that they themselves are human and not only make mistakes but are corruptible as well. Kudos to your locals for doing this!

      Of course this wouldn't stop a sudden application of silly putty on the lense and/or microphone. The mic would be the better choice there - "I'm sorry sir but we seemed to have had audio transmission issues during that incident."

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @09:44AM (#43888433)
    As long as there are penalties for 'losing' key footage. Whether by the officer or higher in the chain of command. Otherwise it becomes a selective evidence tool that is easily biased.
    • by CBravo (35450)
      All video should be uploaded to a vault where it is supervised by court (why else would you need evidence).
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday June 02, 2013 @09:59AM (#43888499) Homepage Journal

      As long as there are penalties for 'losing' key footage. Whether by the officer or higher in the chain of command. Otherwise it becomes a selective evidence tool that is easily biased.

      This is a problem which can easily be dealt with in the courts. Footage missing? Cop must be lying.

      • This is a problem which can easily be dealt with in the courts. Footage missing? Cop must be lying.

        Can be and will be are two very different things.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @12:20PM (#43889373)

        Basically a law saying that if a police officer is supposed to have a camera running on something, and that footage is unavailable for whatever reason, then their testimony is excluded. So if they are giving testimony about a time when they don't have a camera and aren't supposed to, like they are off duty, then their testimony is treated like the testimony of any other person. However if they were supposed to have a camera at the time and the footage is gone, well then they can't offer any testimony as to what happened during that time.

        It would give strong incentive to keep them on and running, and make sure the footage is kept. Otherwise, cases would get lost due to lack of evidence.

  • Uh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _KiTA_ (241027) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @09:50AM (#43888457) Homepage

    In the two recent Canadian Police Brutality events, the police DID have cameras on their uniforms.

    They turned them off until after the attack was over.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      Isn't recording space these days cheap/compact enough that they can just record all the time, and not even contain functionality for being turned off? I mean, the officer could still deliberately disable the device, but if it had no on/off switch and they had to overtly damage/destroy it, that would be a higher bar (and a lot easier to punish them for).

      • by fredklein (532096)

        A piece of tape over the lens disables the video recording, without damaging or destroying the device. For briefer times, the could just put their hand over it 'accidentally'.

    • Re:Uh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jkflying (2190798) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @10:58AM (#43888795)

      Yeah, it should be a criminal offence for an officer to turn off their camera during duty hours.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        We don't need such a law. A judge can and should impose contempt-of-court sanctions on those who tamper with evidence. If you have a camera and you're in a confrontation, there's no way to play silly and not know that should you tamper with the camera, you're tampering with evidence. If I was a judge, I'd toss whoever tampers with camera footage evidence, whether Joe the plumber or a cop or archbishop Canterbury, in jail for a week and have them pay for an ad in a major local paper admitting to the fact and

    • That happens a lot in the states as well. The footage from the dash camera's always seems to have a problem at crucial times.

  • it was 'always on' of course.

    There will be still some ability for the officer to turn it off however - think about what happens when they go to the bathroom for example. I'm not sure they'd be too keen on having that filmed.

    For best use case the camera would send the video footage over the phone network in real-time, along with a GPS and time-stamp information in every frame.

    That there almost guarantees a clean police force on the beat.

  • No false accusations.

    And much less likely to wander off into bad behavior.

    I personally think policemen should put a camera on when they put on the uniform and keep it on until they take it off.

    We also need to recognize that they are human and have more training and suspensions instead of firings for emotional failures as a balance against full time surveillance.

    • by KGIII (973947)

      What if they need to use the restroom?

      • by tibit (1762298)

        Yes, what about it? What, you think that you'll be showing the entire shift's worth of footage in court or on local TV news? Could people please stop with the reactionary "but think of xyz!" and actually think themselves?

        • by KGIII (973947)

          I am thinking for myself and I think the officer, no matter what you think of his privacy rights, isn't always going to want that recorded even if it may only be viewed by a single person, leaked, or viewed ever. They have rights too. Can you please stop with the reactionary nonsense and actually think about someone other than yourself?

  • It seems like these cameras might produce a lot of accidental porn.

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:25AM (#43888987)

    All footage is automatically and continually uploaded to servers located in a branch of government with a vested interest in preservation of the footage.

    There is no power switch, it is always on, self contained and hardened against direct access without custom, specialized tools.

    Any time footage is "missing", the officer is automatically suspended with pay pending an investigation. If it's determined to be a genuine malfunction, the officer can resume work. If it can be reasonably demonstrated, however, that the officer deliberately disabled, tampered with or obstructed the device, they should be forced to pay back any wages received during the suspension and charged for tampering with evidence.

    But, really, who am I kidding... in reality, this will be no different than dash cams in every cruiser. Any time there is a hint of officer abuse or brutality, the footage will be mysteriously and conveniently "unavailable", there will be no real oversight to the whereabouts and, "yes, your honor, the camera just happened to malfunction during the exact time of the brutality accusations against me," will be accepted by the courts.

    Until we have real oversight by people who genuinely have the public interest in mind over their own, this won't change anything.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:28AM (#43889005)

    the use of force by officers and assaults on officers drops by as much as 60%

    Uh huh, and do you know why that is? That's because if you annoy a cop, you get charged with "assault on a police officer" even if you didn't touch them. With a video recorder serving as a witness, the cops know they can't engage in what is commonly called "testilying."

    In my city, the charges cops love to slap anyone they don't like with include AOAPO and "disturbing the peace" - the latter of which basically consists of "a crowd gathered because of you."

    I knew someone - a sub-5-foot-tall, sub-100-lb girl - whose birthday party was ended by cops because it was too loud. Fair enough. She provides her information to one cop, and then a second cop comes in and asks her for her personal information again a few minutes later. She asks him why - she just gave it to the other cop. He refuses to say why, and she asks him again why he can't get the information from the other cop.

    Next thing she remembers, her head is slammed on the countertop and she's in cuffs. Spent the night in jail, and the next day in court answering charges including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and assault on a police officer.

    The judge looks at her, then looks at the cop, who's a burly nearly-6-foot-tall dude, then looks at the charges and says "Seriously? SHE resisted arrest and assaulted YOU? You've got to be kidding me. Dismissed."

    Wasted thousands of dollars in legal fees, because some dickhead cop broke the law and filed false charges, lied in his report, and lied in court.

    • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:58AM (#43889209)

      Spent the night in jail, and the next day in court answering charges including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and assault on a police officer.

      Something very similar happened to me. The cop even charged me with assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon. A much more serious charge. A felony which could have resulted in many years in prison. Because beating me nearly to death just wasn't sufficient apparently. That deadly weapon charge mysteriously vanished when I appeared in court.

      The judge looks at her, then looks at the cop, who's a burly nearly-6-foot-tall dude, then looks at the charges and says "Seriously? SHE resisted arrest and assaulted YOU? You've got to be kidding me. Dismissed."

      Unfortunately, being male, I didn't get any such leniency from the judge and now I have "assault and battery on a police officer" on my record. In addition to every other contempt of cop charge the asshole could think of. I wasn't found guilty. I pleaded something similar to "no contest" because the plea bargain offer had no jail time. Just probation and a small fine. I paid thousands in legal fees and have lingering memory problems as a result of the beating I received.

      Since my contact with the police was due to a roadblock, I plan to either move to one of the few states where such things are illegal or leave the country entirely for a place where the police are not so violent and dangerous.

      If only the cop who beat me had been forced to wear a camera which was required to be on for any of the common contempt of cop charges to be allowed I would have been saved at least from the false charges. I would probably still have been severely injured or even killed but that would have been the end of it.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        I wasn't found guilty. I pleaded something similar to "no contest" because the plea bargain offer had no jail time.

        Guess what, you have that on the record because "no contest" is effectively the same as pleading guilty. As a result, you may find moving to another country incredibly difficult. Heck, even Canada will demand thousands in fees and professional document creation(IE lawyers filling out forms) before they'll let you in.

        Of course, I hate how our current system allows police and prosecutors to effectively punish people without ever finding them guilty of anything. Legal fees alone can ruin people.

  • The police will just turn them off, cover them. missing footage etc.

  • As somebody who frequently works with law enforcement, they get blamed for a lot of ridiculous (and completely false) stuff - I've seen officers get accused of assaults (and then exonerated when surveillance footage from a building shows they didn't even touch the suspect). A lot of our officers just recently got uniform-mounted cameras and the footage always shows that the complaints are completely unfounded.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:41AM (#43889101)
    FTA:

    The union says in other jurisdictions where police officers are equipped with point-of-view cameras, the use of force by officers and assaults on officers drops by as much as 60%.

    That's a meaningless "statistic", because it's actually two statistics combined. How much did "the use of force by officers" drop by and how much did "assaults on officers" drop by? Considering how much the police love to be monitored when on duty, I wouldn't trust any proposal like this coming from a police union.

  • by PPH (736903) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:58AM (#43889207)

    ... look directly into the camera. Address your remarks to "ladies and gentlemen of the jury", "your honor" or whatever is appropriate. Refer to the officer in the third person.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:11PM (#43889759) Homepage

    I'd agree with this on three conditions:

    1. The camera is continuously active and the video stream uploaded and stored for a minimum of 90 days.
    2. The complete, unedited recording shall be made available to the defense no less than 14 days before trial is scheduled and in any event no more than 14 days after charges are filed. Failure to supply the video shall be grounds for immediate dismissal of all charges against all defendants.
    3. Absence of any video recording of relevant events for any non-trivial part of the time period in question is automatic grounds for the dismissal of all charges against all defendants in the case in question. It's also grounds for felony destruction of evidence charges against the officers whose cameras failed to record events and the officers responsible for monitoring and preserving the recordings. The burden shall be on the police to show that the failure was due to failure of the camera hardware or the network link.

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