The RCMP’s long-promised plan to equip Mounties across the country with body-worn cameras has been delayed.
The RCMP had planned to outfit between 10,000 and 15,000 frontline officers in stages, starting sometime in 2023 and running into 2024.
After awarding the contract to Motorola Solutions Canada earlier this year, the Mounties ran field tests of the cameras over the summer in Nova Scotia, Alberta and Nunavut.
A recent statement from RCMP headquarters suggests the testers faced issues.
“Canada plans to exercise its absolute discretion under the contract to pivot to the next-ranked bidder. As this is an ongoing procurement process, we are unable to provide additional details at this time,” said RCMP spokesperson Robin Percival.
“An updated timeline will be determined once the government has pivoted to the second-ranked bidder.”
CBC News has reached out to Motorola Solutions Canada for comment.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki agreed to fund body-worn cameras in 2020, weeks after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
Footage of Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck fuelled protests against police brutality and systemic racism in Canada and around the world.
“It is critically important for Canadians to feel protected by the police and [the commissioner] is committed to [taking] whatever steps are required to enhance trust between the RCMP and the communities we serve,” said an RCMP spokesperson at the time of the 2020 announcement.
RCMP has introduced policies
The force originally planned to roll out the cameras in 2021, but it took years to land on Motorola as the initial vendor.
When the RCMP does finally start using the cameras across the country, officers will have to activate them during service calls — including ongoing crimes and investigations, mental health calls and protests, says the force’s policy document.
The RCMP says its officers won’t use the cameras during intimate searches.
The RCMP also has policies on when the cameras can be turned off (rarely) and how the footage can be disclosed to the public (upon request).
The federal government committed $238.5 million over six years in the 2020 fall economic statement to fund the cameras and a digital evidence management system.
The union representing RCMP officers said it continues to support body cameras for its members.
“The NPF has been engaged with the RCMP and its membership throughout the testing phases and we will continue to engage on this important topic as the next vendor rolls out their product,” Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation, told CBC News in a media statement.