The Port Moody Police Department is in no rush to equip their frontline officers with body cams.
While the equipment upgrades will eventually come, it’s an expensive investment they don’t feel the need to prioritize, according to Dave Fox, a member of the local police board.
“We intentionally decided that Port Moody would not be the ones to lead the way in this area,” Fox said. “We don’t have the operational or strategic need.”
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Fox and Chief Const. Dave Fleugel presented council with their 2023 budget and strategic plan last Thursday, Nov. 22.
They said that transparency upgrades such as body cams will be a cost pressure that will impact the police budget in coming years.
Fleugel said no police officer in Port Moody is currently equipped with a body cam and only a few municipal departments have started experimenting with them.
He added they have plans to build towards them, but that it’s an expensive undertaking due to the cost of data storage and retrieval.
“The goal would be to give one to every frontline police officer,” Fleugel said. “We’ve just got to get there and we need to fund it.”
The city will have to pay for data storage and hire a staff member to retrieve, edit and vet footage before it can be released upon request.
The B.C. Police Services Division and the province have a framework in place around the use of body cams.
Fleugel noted that Port Moody has some of the lowest crime rates in the region, province and maybe even the country.
“There’s been no public outcry in the city of Port Moody for us to have it,” he said. “We have a very transparent organization and I believe high public trust, but we’re certainly not afraid of the technology.”
The Port Moody Police Department’s budget is one of the largest expenses the city incurred annually, accounting for between 20 and 25 percent of its total budget.
The department’s projected cost in 2023 is more than $13.5 million, an increase of 6.3 percent over last year. The uptick is primarily related to increased salaries and benefits and operating expenses.
Labour costs account for 76 percent of the department’s expenses.