Body-worn cameras ‘are often effective when dealing with victims’ – Kentville Police Service


city_scope_logo-cmykTo follow up on last week’s item on the pilot project to be undertaken by the St. Thomas Police Service to evaluate body cameras, Chief Chris Herridge indicated the small police force in Kentville, Nova Scotia may prove to be a valuable resource during the evaluation.
We contacted Kentville police and exchanged emails with Deputy Chief Marty Smith who was most helpful with his responses to our questions.
As to how long the service has employed body cameras he noted, “The Kentville Police Service started with a pilot project in 2015 under retired Chief Mark Mander.
“In the beginning, we only had a few members outfitted with Body-Worn Cameras to see if they would be beneficial for our members and the public. In 2018 KPS developed a policy and every patrol member wears a BWC when working.”


As to critical factors that resulted in adoption of body cameras Smith responded, “BWC’s have allowed us to be transparent and accountable to the public, and have shown to be a very effective tool. The cost was a factor, but we felt the importance of our officers having this tool, outweighed the cost.”
Kentville Police ServiceWhen asked about the community response he indicated “The feedback from the community and KPS has been very positive.”
When it comes to policy and when the cameras activated, Smith pointed out several key considerations.
“The BWC is to be activated when dealing with the public in the execution of their duties. The BWC is to be turned off when entering the hospital, lock up, circumstances of a sensitive nature and dealing with confidential informants.”
On the important issue of data storage, Smith noted the Kentville Police Service relies on the same tech firm that will undertake the pilot project in St. Thomas.
“Our BWC’s were purchased from Axon, within our contract we purchase storage space which allows us to store our video on a secure server, depending on each separate occasion, would decide how long the video is kept for.”
As chief Herridge pointed out when discussing privacy, “People can apply for a Freedom of Information request and obtain information as it relates directly to them, of course, and not to someone else.”
Smith advised, in Kentville, that has not proven an issue.
“We haven’t had many requests from the public for access to footage. A community member would have to make a formal request through FOIPOP (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) to access the information.”

“It has also been effective when dealing with victims. We can get an accurate picture of the incident they were involved in, and capture any injuries.”

And finally, we asked the deputy chief about the effectiveness of the body cameras with regard to convictions and crime reduction.
“The benefits are they provide an accurate picture of each situation for prosecutions as well as assisting with public complaint investigations. The members have also noticed when dealing with the public, that they’re aware of the camera and can help in de-escalating certain situations. The BWC has a bright yellow sticker on the front of it which says video and audio, this can bring the person’s attention to the camera, making them aware they’re being recorded.
“It has also been effective when dealing with victims. We can get an accurate picture of the incident they were involved in, and capture any injuries.”
Our thanks to Deputy Chief Smith for his assistance and quick response to our questions.

BELMONT SCHOOL ANNOUNCEMENT A WIN FOR RURAL ONTARIO

Two days after the Thames Valley District School Board meeting of Nov. 26 of last year, Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek had a word of advice for school board members.
“I hope the school board gets right to work on their business plan for Belmont school and gets it in ASAP with a capital ask and I will get to work with the ministry to provide the case for support for Belmont.”
At the meeting, TVDSB trustees voted overwhelmingly in favour of rescinding a motion to shutter New Sarum and Springfield public schools this year.
The motion had initially been introduced last October by Elgin trustee Meagan Ruddock, with the support of fellow area trustee Bruce Smith.
Following the two motions to keep New Sarum and Springfield public schools open, trustees voted to make a new Belmont school and additions to Eagle Heights in London a top priority.
At an announcement Thursday (June 25) morning in Belmont, Yurek had the news Belmont and area residents had been waiting four years to hear.
Yurek Belmont school announcementReferring to what he was about to announce as “a very exciting day for our region and rural Ontario in particular.”
Yurek went on to proclaim, “the provincial government has approved the tendering of an $8.7 million elementary school in Belmont,” with the rest of that sentence drowned out by applause.
The new school will accommodate 345 pupils and will necessitate the consolidation of South Dorchester and Westminster Central public schools, two underutilized facilities constructed in 1965.
The site for the school has not been finalized although Central Elgin Mayor Sally Martyn advised a deal will soon be concluded with an area developer.
The new school will open in time for the 2023-24 school year.
As Yurek summed up, “This news marks the end of almost four years of community input regarding school board pupil accommodations, rural education and the future of our region.
“It has truly been a long road, but we would not be here today without the effort of all of you present and all of you online.”
Yurek continued, “I really do want to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved in this process for standing up for what you believe in.
“Contributing your time and effort and taking an active role in advocating for the kind of community and province you would like to be a part of.
“This news speaks to the impact that can be made by a community of people who care.”
The new school will be of great significance to Belmont and area residents, stressed Yurek.
“One of its greatest impacts is related to rurality and the unique educational needs of rural Ontario.
“It underscores that schools are much more than just bricks and mortar, they are the heart of small communities.

“This government is listening to rural Ontario for the first time in a long time and community support means a lot. We’re listening and if there is a lot of power behind the community pushing things forward they’re going to be heard.”

“Large-scale school consolidations aren’t always the solution for every region and they have a significant impact on the future of areas like Elgin county.”
In describing the four-year journey to saving two rural schools and opening a new rural elementary school, Yurek noted it entailed the following.
“Numerous public meetings, reams of letters, hours of phone calls, dozens of signs and a 30-foot high well-drilling truck and today’s news is about the students.
“It means a new, safe facility for young learners in the South Dorchester, Westminster and Belmont communities. It means that Springfield and New Sarum students will continue to benefit from the tradition of great things happening in those schools.
“It means that rural children will not spend a significant portion of the day on a school bus and instead can learn and grow as part of their home communities.
“And finally, it means East and Central Elgin remain viable places for those students to grow up in and build a future.”
Speaking with Yurek following the announcement, he stressed it definitely sends a message to other rural communities in the province.
“This government is listening to rural Ontario for the first time in a long time and community support means a lot. We’re listening and if there is a lot of power behind the community pushing things forward they’re going to be heard.
“Rural Ontario needs to know our government is working to make them prosperous again. All of Ontario, not just one segment.”
In other words, remember there is life beyond the Greater Toronto Area.

Related post:

https://ianscityscope.com/2019/11/30/a-tale-of-two-schools-the-public-doesnt-support-us-closing-full-schools-to-create-a-business-case-to-open-another-one/

CANADA DAY GIFT

With Canada Day right around the corner, the Railway City Rotary Club has a gift for the community which will be unveiled Monday (June 29) at the St. Thomas Elevated Park.
And, you could say it will be music to the ears of all visitors to Canada’s first elevated park.
The gift comes in the form of all-metal, fully tuned musical instruments designed and fabricated by area metal artist Scott McKay, no stranger to the park and the traffic roundabout immediately north on Sunset Drive.

STEP - Rotary logo atop chimes

Artist Scott McKay with the Rotary logo atop the wind chimes at St. Thomas Elevated Park.

We’ll have more next week on the musical instruments themselves, but we can say they are big, bold and beautiful.
The donation was announced last September and project lead Serge Lavoie explains, “We wanted to engage kids, and kids at heart, with something safe and fun. We think they’ll love playing with those musical instruments.”
At last year’s announcement, Rotary Club president Scott Carrie noted, “The Elevated Park is a fantastic community project and we feel that the addition of musical instruments will really add play value to the park. It’s a perfect fit for our club.”

Related post:

https://ianscityscope.com/2017/07/22/silently-pointing-the-way-atop-st-thomas-elevated-park/

THE READER’S WRITE

Last week’s item on body cameras generated a couple of lengthy and thought-provoking responses from readers.
Steve Ogden hopes the undertaking by the St. Thomas Police Service proves to be more than “an expensive public relations gesture.”

“There’s no question it’s a huge, complicated and costly undertaking, but it reads here as if we’re reinventing the wheel. Body cams have been in use for some time now. Just pick the plan that’s working best, take out what won’t work locally, and plug in ways to compensate under our conditions.
“If it was ‘on the radar of former chief Darryl Pinnell and in the service’s five-year capital budget at that time’, I would think there’d be at least the skeleton of a plan by now.
“Why tell us now how many reasons it may not work? Why not put the trial plan together, then show us how the inherent difficulties will be handled?
“Finally, what is the statistical probability that 10 cameras shared between 73 officers for a month will tell us anything remotely useful? Trials have to be statistically viable, or they’re nothing but a waste of time and money.
“Taxpayers deserve some assurance this money won’t end up as an expensive (but otherwise valueless) public-relations gesture.”

In his response, John O’Reilly zeroes in on the police services board. Spoiler alert, make sure you read it right to the end.

“Another knee jerk reaction by yet another police services board to the ongoing extortion and propaganda being put out there by those that what to “defund” the police. Might as well say it as they mean it. They want to “abolish” the police!
“While we’re at it let’s abolish all other emergency first responder services so we can appreciate the full effect of returning to the Wild West.
“Oh, but please don’t abolish the lavish social support system in place that allows as much time as necessary to come up with these ridiculous ideas.
“However if you think I’m against body cams you are dead wrong I’m all in on those cause now there will be a record of exactly what type of shit our police officers have to deal with on a daily basis!”

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And a reminder, I can be heard weekday afternoons as news anchor and reporter on 94.1 myFM in St. Thomas. As always, your comments and input are appreciated.

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