Nunavut RCMP release findings from body camera project
Inuit respondents were more likely to say technology would reduce officers’ use of force
This story was updated on Feb. 16 at 7:20 a.m. ET
Nunavut RCMP have released a summary of findings from a six-month pilot project of police wearing body cameras in Iqaluit.
One of the findings is that Inuit were under-represented in the community survey that sought to gauge public opinion on police wearing body cameras.
“I think we need to do a better job in communicating to our fellow Inuit on the value of these surveys,” said Nunavut Justice Minister David Akeeagok.
From November 2020 to May 2021, 53 RCMP officers wore body cameras to record themselves while on duty, according to the summary sent by RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Pauline Melanson.
The purpose of the pilot was to engage with the community on its reception to police wearing body cameras, identify the impact of the technology and get officers feedback, according to the report.
Melanson said the full report had not been released because it is being translated.
The report stated that 73 people were surveyed in the community. The summary doesn’t say how many respondents were Inuit, but it does state that in the future, collecting data from non-police organizations would lead to a larger proportion of Inuit responding.
One notable difference in opinion between Inuit and white respondents is that nearly 70 per cent of Inuit respondents said they believed that body cameras would reduce police’s use of force compared to just under a third of white respondents. Another difference is that just under a third of Inuit disagreed with the statement that body cameras are an invasion of their privacy compared to three-quarters of white respondents.
Akeeagok said that since Inuit are under-represented in a survey that already has a small number of people it is difficult to read too much into the answers between white and Inuit respondents.
But most survey respondents said the body cameras will be good for the community, Akeeagok said.
“We’re in agreement with that,” he said.
In the report, at least 60 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that body cameras will increase trust in police, increase safety and improve relations between police and the community. Nearly 80 per cent believe it will make police more transparent.
One of the larger challenges for implementing body cameras throughout the entire territory will be figuring out how to store the data from body cameras, Akeeagok said.
He said the Government of Nunavut will work with the RCMP to find the right technology to do so.
For the pilot project, 525 hours of video were recorded and that required approximately 1,246 gigabytes of storage.
Akeeagok said he wants police to use body cameras across the territory, but he does not have a timeline for when that will occur.
Correction: This story has been updated to say Inuit respondents to the RCMP survey were more likely to report they believe body worn cameras will reduce police use of force. Nunatsiaq News regrets the error.