featured Racism

Raymond Sheppard: Don’t disregard police body cams

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – In recent years, Halifax Regional Council and Halifax Regional Police considered implementing body cameras for the Halifax force, but for some reason this was not pursued

With an apparent increase in the use of excessive force and displays of anti-Black racism by police officers, many in the African Nova Scotian community feel the use of body cams should be revisited asap yesterday.

Where African Nova Scotians are taxpayers like others, having body cams would help police, and the community as well. I believe the benefits of having body cams would be cost effective and the benefits would outweigh any cost concerns there may be.

I believe these benefits would include:

  1. Improved community confidence in policing
  2. Fewer conflicts and complaints
  3. Reduction in the number of assaults on African Nova Scotian community members and police officers
  4. De-escalation of unnecessary excessive force against African Nova Scotians and others.
  5. Possible crime reduction and crime cost reduction.
  6. Might even save a few trees when it comes to paperwork and a few lives, etc.

There has been much public support in Britain and many states in the United States for body cams, and the stats show that there has been a decrease in complaints and conflict associated with mistreatment and Anti Black Racism. It should be noted, this does not mean that racism by police or others has declined, it simply means that complaints of in your face harassment and excessive force decreased. 

Here in the Halifax Regional Municipality where Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella says street checks are a thing of the past, this would be one way to gauge the Chief’s statement.

I know there would be some privacy concerns, but those concerns can be discussed and effectively/respectively dealt with. 

Hopefully, body cams will be introduced across Nova Scotia and they will transmit information directly back to police headquarters and to the Provincial Department of Justice from body cams one cannot edit or easily tamper with. 

It is indeed necessary for community members to have access to these recordings where and when it is deemed necessary, especially to prove their case in a court of law.  

Body cams can be another tool in the fight against anti-Black racism, harassment and unnecessary excessive force by police, but they will never be able to take the place of integrity, honesty, compassion, understanding and genuine R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  

With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.

Subscribe to the Nova Scotia Advocate weekly digest and never miss an article again. It’s free!