Frontline police officers in 31 Division will be equipped with body-worn cameras this week as the Toronto Police Service continues its roll-out of the technology.
In August, the police board approved a plan that will see the TPS purchase 2,350 body-worn cameras over the next five years with the initiative carrying a cost of $34.1 million.
The plan is to eventually have all frontline officers equipped with body-worn cameras but is being rolled out on a division-by division basis.
So far officers in 23, 22, 11 and 52 divisions have already begun wearing the cameras.
The TPS policy requires that the cameras be turned on whenever officers are having an interaction with a member of the public.
If an officer turns off their camera without a valid reason, they will be suspended for a minimum of one day.
“I have to be honest with you. When I first heard about it I thought it is big brother watching and another issue where police are being monitored for everything we do but in fact when you see the advantage that body cameras give to both the community and police I think it is a very, very positive thing,” Supt. Ron Taverner, who is the unit commander for 31 Division, told CP24 on Monday morning.
The Toronto Police Service says that every officer being equipped with a body-worn camera will first be trained on “the operational use of the camera and the associated governance, which include minimum penalties for non-compliance.”
They will then be expected to have the cameras on whenever they are responding to a call with some exceptions for sensitive situations.
"Body-worn cameras are one tool we can use to create trust and legitimacy between officers and the public as we look for ways to modernize policing services," Interim Police Chief James Ramer said in a news release. "This technology provides an independent, bias-free account of our interactions and reinforces our commitment to show communities they can feel safe and secure to enjoy their daily lives with the police."
Taverner said that he expects all 31 Division officers to be trained and equipped with body-worn cameras over the next two weeks.