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Petition calling for body cameras on RCMP gaining traction

In this file photo, a member of the Vancouver Police Department wears a chest mounted camera as he oversees the take down of a tent city in Oppenheimer Park in downtown Vancouver on Oct. 16, 2014.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
June 08, 2020 - 1:33 PM

A petition from a West Kelowna woman urging the powers that be to institute the use of body cameras on RCMP officers is getting widespread support.

Nearly 22,000 people have signed the petition Melanie Banman put up on, asking Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to make body cameras a requirement for members of the B.C. RCMP.

“Police are supposed to be protectors, they are also human, and are not always able to separate their beliefs from their actions,” reads the petition that points to the recent killing of Black American George Floyd by a white police officer as an example of why these cameras are needed.

“This can lead to the death of minority members at the hands of those that have promised to protect us.”

In 2019, the office of the B.C. Solicitor General created guidelines around RCMP members wearing and using body cameras but they've yet to be implemented.

The issue has been raised many times before. Locally it came up last week with a recent video of an arrest downtown prompting some to say undue force was used. At that time, Kelowna's top cop said that the RCMP are reviewing the use of body cameras.

Nationally it got attention when a Nunavut video of an Indigenous man being struck by an RCMP officer’s truck was circulated. That incident happened in the small community of Kinngait, and is now subject to an independent criminal investigation and an internal one.

The use of body cameras was discussed by Prime Minister Trudeau today, at his daily media briefing outside of Rideau Cottage. Trudeau said he raised the issue with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki during a phone call earlier this morning.

"It is something that is, in my opinion, what we need to move forward with," he said.

The prime minister said he also plans to raise the issue of outfitting officers with body cameras when he speaks with the premiers later in the week, so they can “move on it as quickly as possible."

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