Toronto police to get 2,350 body cameras and 3,000 licenses for data management

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TORONTO — The Toronto Police Services Board has approved the purchase of 2,350 body cameras to equip the city’s officers.

The board made its decision this afternoon during a meeting in which it also considered multiple reports related to police reforms.

The addition of body cameras was proposed by Toronto city council in a series of changes to policing amid ongoing protests denouncing systemic racism.

Widespread protests have taken place in Canada and the U.S. in recent months following the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who died while a white police officer pressed a knee against his neck for nearly eight minutes.

Demonstrators in Toronto have also called for defunding local police, and highlighted the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black woman who fell from her apartment’s balcony while in the presence of six police officers.

The province’s police watchdog is investigating Korchinski-Paquet’s death.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the cameras’ manufacturer said it received an order from Toronto police in the third quarter of 2020 and will ship it in multiple phases beginning this month.

The deal also includes 3,000 licences for data management, situational awareness and sharing tools.

Body cameras underwent a six-year vendor review process by the Toronto Police Service before an agreement with Axon was reached, the board heard.

Axon says the cameras’ real-time streaming will allow police to quickly deploy the resources necessary to help de-escalate a situation, including mental-health professionals or translators.