Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Cameras for cops in limbo - Security minister unable to say when body cameras will be introduced

Published:Sunday | May 15, 2016 | 5:00 AMCorey Robinson
Two security guards from KingAlarm wearing the body cameras used by that company.
Bunting
Montague
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More than two years after then Security Minister Peter Bunting announced plans to have some members of the police force wear body cameras while on patrol, his replacement, Robert Montague, is unable to say when this will be implemented.

Last week, Montague told The Sunday Gleaner that he embraces the body cameras initiative but could not give a date when local cops will be wired up.

According to Montague, technical experts locally and from the United States are making final checks on certain features of the body cameras.

"A pilot programme was completed and we have ordered the cameras. Some have arrived in the country. The persons from the United States and the technical people are making sure that everything is a go, that the GPS systems and so on work," said Montague.

VINDICATE ACCUSED COPS

He said the cameras could help to vindicate many accused cops rather than incriminate them.

"There is absolutely no place for police corruption in the force. There is no place for situations where we hear of policemen asking motorists 'left or right'," said Montague.

"On the other hand, there are also persons who will accuse the police of threatening them, of asking for money, and so on, and you hear all types of different stories.

"The body camera will be an impartial witness to the interactions between the police and the public. They will improve policing, they will improve professionalism, and they will improve public relations," added Montague.

The security minister's comments came after a quarterly report by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) last month that said some 212 complaints against members of the security force came before the latest reporting period.

INDECOM said there were 70 complaints of police assault while 33 were about policemen who discharged their weapons. There were 14 shooting incidents, 12 cases of unprofessional conduct, 10 reports of policemen abusing their offices, nine reports of others neglecting their duties, four police killings, and four illegal searches, according to the investigative body.

The watchdog body recommended that no charges or disciplinary action be taken against cops in 26 of the 30 matters it resolved this year.

Following a rash of police killings, Bunting announced in January 2014 that the body cameras would be introduced as a means of improving accountability within the force.

He had promised that it would have been rolled out by the end of that year.

But more than two years later, and with the United States having committed some $45.5 million towards the initiative, Bunting last week argued that there was not much more his government could have done towards the implementation of the initiative.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com