By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Norm Dorr, the father-in-law of Steve Mesic who was shot by Hamilton police last year, urged city councillors to pressure the police to begin using lapel cameras on officers.
“If we can save another life, Steve’s death has some meaning,” said Dorr, speaking to the government issues committee meeting June 17. “If we can get lapel cameras working that would be great.”
Dorr, accompanied by Mesic’s fiancée Sharon, and Dominic, who was born less than a year ago in September 2013, said installing body-worn cameras on officers was one of the recommendations from a recently ended inquest into Mesic’s death. He suggested Hamilton should begin a pilot project using six body-worn cameras. The estimated cost, Dorr proposed, would be less than $20,000.
Hamilton Police Chief Glenn De Caire has indicated it could cost about $2 million to implement the project.
“That’s ludicrous,” said Dorr.
Mesic, a 43-year-old Mountain resident was shot to death by police during a confrontation in June 2013. The officers involved were cleared of wrongdoing by the province’s Special Investigation Unit.
A number of other Canadian cities have started pilot projects using body-worn cameras, including in Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and York Region. Toronto police start a pilot project earlier this year. Wearing body-worn cameras by police officers in various United States police services has become common.
In Calgary, the police serviced had a pilot project starting in November 2012 that installed 50 cell phone-sized cameras on 50 officers. The police concluded it was a success.
A year-long study in Rialto, Calif. Found the use of force incidents dropped by 60 per cent, while complaints against officers declined by 90 per cent.
“Officers endorse cameras,” said Dorr. “It works good for officers, it works good for the public. I can’t imagine Hamilton not doing it.”
De Caire has stated Hamilton Police are monitoring the various pilot projects that are under way.
But after Dorr asked politicians to persuade members of the Hamilton Police Services Board to endorse the idea, Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark pointed out councillors have no influence over the board.
“That’s a real shame,” said Dorr. “I thought the city ran the police.”
Meanwhile, Dorr, as Dominic gurgled in his mother’s arms, also asked that council in the future could consider naming a street after Mesic, as some form of recognition.
“Think about naming a street after (Dominic’s) dad,” said Dorr.