Where were the cameras?

Like I said the other day: Canadians shouldn’t get too smug and self-righteous about police brutality in the United States, because it is very much a problem here. Maybe not to the same degree, but definitely a problem.

And now we have this controversy brewing in Toronto:

Questions are swirling about exactly what happened to a woman who apparently fell to her death from an apartment balcony in Toronto’s High Park neighbourhood on Wednesday.

What began as a 911 call for help for Regis Korchinski-Paquet ended in her death, her family told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

[…]

The family’s news conference comes after video of Korchinski-Paquet’s mother and cousin emerged on social media alleging police pushed her from the balcony. 

“The police killed my daughter,” Korchinski-Beals said in one video. 

Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, said in a news release Wednesday night that while officers were inside the apartment unit, they “observed a woman on the balcony.”

“A short time later, the woman fell from the balcony to the ground below. She was pronounced dead at the scene.”

In a second release Thursday, the SIU said it is “aware of allegations made by certain family members of the deceased” and is looking to speak with anyone with information. An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

[…]

…Toronto’s police chief is urging any witnesses to contact the SIU.

“We know this incident has caused a great deal of concern, and our thoughts are with the family and the community,” Saunders said in a statement. “Let me be very clear that we want the facts as much as anyone.”

Saunders said the force is co-operating with the SIU but is not “legally permitted to discuss the incident at this time.”

At a news conference Thursday, he suggested no body cameras were in use at the time, saying, “This might be a textbook case in which body cameras should be provided.” [emphasis added]

This case is more ambiguous than what happened in Minneapolis precisely because there’s no video. And the question is, why not? Aside from undercover operations where officers’ identities could be revealed, why aren’t they always wearing them?

Body cameras would document police misconduct, and that’s precisely why officers should want to wear them. It’s like Mike Pence’s rule about not being alone with women to whom he isn’t married, so he’s not accused of anything improper.

We’ve entrusted police officers with power and authority unavailable to civilians. It would be nice if we could trust them with it, no questions asked – and it is very heartening to see several officers from the US and Canada speaking out on social media – but for our own safety we need video footage. And so do they, for their own safety and for the sake of their reputation.

One thought on “Where were the cameras?

  1. M says:

    Body cams should be mandatory. When they are not worn or turned on during an incident, that should have serious disciplinary consequences. They’re available, it’s logical and sensible, plus it protects officers if they are conducting themselves properly. So, why not?

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