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B.C. justice minister will look into wearable video cameras for RCMP

Greg Matters is shown in this undated family handout photo.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS
February 01, 2014 - 1:04 PM

CORONER'S JURY RECOMMENDATION

VANCOUVER - Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says she'll talk to RCMP and municipal police about a coroner's jury recommendation that emergency response team members start wearing audio and video recording devices on duty.

The recommendation was one of nine to come out of the inquest into the death of Greg Matters near Prince George.

"I will be discussing those with our police services, and with the police, because believe me I take all of these coroner's recommendations very seriously," she said Friday.

"We will do what we can in terms of the right implementation and moving forward on those recommendations."

But Anton said the jury came back with their recommendations just the day before, and she will be taking a closer look.

"This is a question of resourcing and it's a question of police practices," she said.

Matters, 40, was shot in the back in September 2012 by a member of the RCMP emergency response team sent to arrest him on a charge of assaulting his brother.

The former soldier, who served in Bosnia, was in treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder at the time.

The inquest jurors made nine recommendations Thursday evening after hearing testimony from over two dozens witnesses, including his mother, his estranged brother and most of the RCMP officers involved.

In addition to the recording devices, the jury recommended improved training for all emergency response team members on the use of less-lethal weapons and required mental health training.

They also suggested a mental health professional be made available to all emergency situations, after hearing that Matters' psychiatrist was not allowed to speak to him as police tried to negotiate a peaceful surrender.

The jury suggested the federal government, National Defence and Veterans Affairs develop a program to monitor the well-being of soldiers past and present. They also recommended the Canadian Forces, which has been plagued by a recent rash of soldier suicides, provide adequate support and education on PTSD to the families and loved ones of soldiers and veterans.

It is the eighth time in recent years that coroner's juries in B.C. have recommended that police be equipped with audio-video recording devices on duty — both on vehicles and on their bodies when outside the vehicle.

RCMP have conducted trials using body-worn cameras and recording devices attached to Tasers. One such pilot project is currently underway in New Brunswick.

But police officials have said that in addition to the effectiveness of the products in the field, there are issues around the resources available to put such a policy in place, the training involved and potential legal challenges.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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