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Port Coquitlam says 'no' to paying for police body cameras

Do you think local RCMP should wear body cameras? They are expensive, and Port Coquitlam wants Ottawa to pay for them.
police body cam stock
Close-up of a body camera on a police officer.

Port Coquitlam won't be paying for costly body worn cameras (BWC) for local RCMP.

In deferring the expense for 2023, city councillors said the cameras, along with funding for switching over to next generation 9-1-1 services (NG 9-1-1), should be funded by the federal government — not PoCo taxpayers.

"I think this is frankly a tipping point we've come to, this has been an ongoing thing that we’ve had continuous downloading from the federal government," said Coun. Darrell Penner during the Tuesday (Dec. 13) council in committee meeting.

Pending more information and discussion, councillors agreed to defer spending a portion of $203,508 requested by RCMP on these two items.

Cameras expensive

Coquitlam Mounties are seeking $1.6 million in funding for police equipment expenditures to 2027, which includes money for tasers, pistols and extended-range weapons that fire non-lethal rounds used for de-escalation, as well as body worn cameras.

The City of Port Moody is also considering paying for body cameras for its police force, as are a number of other Canadian cities.

In 2020, the federal government made a commitment to equip RCMP with body cams to enhance transparency, accountability and trust in police.

However, the funding for the project has run out, councillors said, while NG 9-1-1 is another cost that has to be borne by local taxpayers.

"This is not directed at the RCMP but at the senior levels of government — the federal government — that have no issue with making decrees and provide no funding; these two items alone would result in millions of dollars of costs borne on Port Coquitlam taxpayers," West said.

Expected to be in place by 2025, NG 9-1-1 will allow those who require 911 services to send photos, video and text messages so dispatchers know what’s happening in real time.

Federal funding is running out

However, West raised concerns about the cost of funding this new service.

Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) has raised the issue about cities paying for body worn cameras, between $2,000 and $3,000 each, including the cost of data storage and federal government funding runs out in 2024-25.

Meanwhile, more than 26,000 people have signed a petition at calling for B.C. RCMP to wear body cameras to record their interactions.

A $55,000 expenditure for office renovations at city hall was also deferred pending further study.

In all, council approved nearly $1.7 million in additional capital expenditures for 2023 for a total of $25.8 million, including money for neighbourhood rehabilitation and park upgrades.