Vaudreuil-Dorion public security officers will record interventions
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Vaudreuil-Dorion public security officers who patrol the city will begin wearing body cameras to record interactions with citizens.
Vaudreuil-Dorion public security officers will begin wearing body cameras to record their interactions with citizens. The one-year pilot project, which was recently endorsed by city council, is aimed at improving the quality control of services offered by the municipal patrol officers to citizens.
The body cams will be mounted on an officer’s chest or shoulder and feature a sound recording device. During a sensitive intervention that would require use of the body cam, the officer will notify the citizen involved of the video and audio recording process.
A flashing light will indicate the camera is on. The use of the recording devices will be carried out with respect for privacy and protection of personal information, according to a press release issued by the city.
Mayor Guy Pilon said the new protocol is necessary to ensure the safety of the municipal patrol officers and citizens. It will also provide an unbiased record of an intervention.
“Politically, we asked the public security department to look into them one-and-a-half years ago,” Pilon told The Journal in a telephone interview on February 20.
“Sometimes we get calls from people who received a ticket and they tell us something happened with an officer. Then we would meet with the officer, they would tell us something completely different. This way if there’s a dispute regarding contradictory stories, the body cam will show what really happened. Otherwise, it’s one person’s version against someone else’s version,” said Pilon.
Increased safety measure
The body cameras will also add an additional level of safety for citizens and officers, said Pilon.
“The fact is there are two good things with the body cameras. It will keep our personnel safe because sometimes they have to go into areas at night that have no lights. They never know what they will encounter and how they will react,” said Pilon.
“Second, it’s good for our citizens. When they interact with an officer, the entire interaction will be recorded. This will make sure our officers are doing the right job and using the proper protocols in all their interactions with the public. No one is happy when an officer gives a ticket for whatever reason. When people realize that the interaction is being recorded, it may help to decrease the tension,” Pilon added.
Residents have to realize the aim of the public security department isn’t a way for the city to collect additional revenue, but to ensure its by-laws are being respected, said Pilon. “We would prefer if we didn’t have to give any tickets,” he said.
No images or sounds will be recorded inside a private residence. The camera will, however, be authorized for use in common areas of a building or on private land where a regulation requires a visit from an officer. Software will be used to blur faces or elements of identification not related to an officer’s intervention. The recordings will be kept on an encrypted server and accessible only to authorized persons. A citizen may request access to the recordings regarding a particular situation. Although these cameras are not initially intended to collect evidence, any recording will likely be forwarded to the judicial or police authority that requests it.
The city’s public security personnel are appointed and sworn in by council as municipal officers. They have the power to issue violation tickets and to detain an individual for identification purposes in the event of a violation of municipal by-laws in accordance with articles 74 and 87 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. They may also investigate an offense on private property, according to the press release.