‘They have to be 100 per cent mandatory’: Mother of Myles Gray supports push for police body cameras
This August will mark five years since 33-year-old Myles Gray died during an encounter with Vancouver police officers.
His mother, Margie Reed, is still waiting to hear what Crown prosecutors will decide a year and a half after B.C.’s police watchdog forwarded the case to them for consideration of charges.
Reed told CTV News she believes things would have been different if police were required to wear body cameras.
“There would not be this hold up if there were video,” Reed said. “It would have been resolved. They would have known who did what, and when.”
Beyond the lack of video to shed light on what happened to her son, Reed said there were no witnesses.
The push for police to wear body cameras in Canada, which includes an online petition signed by thousands, now has the support of the prime minister. On Monday, Justin Trudeau said he will be speaking with provinces about implementing the tool many are now calling for following outrage over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in the United States.
“I’m committing to raising this with the provinces this week so we can move forward as quickly as possible,” Trudeau said Monday, calling it a significant step towards transparency.
The chief civilian director of B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office, Ron MacDonald, said it’s time.
“I think now our society has come to expect this type of evidence would be in existence,” MacDonald said. “To not have it would have a negative impact on the public’s faith in these types of investigations.”
MacDonald said it’s another piece of evidence that could be helpful in their investigations, especially considering the cameras are generally on from the beginning to the end of an incident, and could potentially even speed up the investigative process.
“There are other cases where we don’t have any video at all where the existence of that video would assist us greatly,” he said.
MacDonald said the cost, which he acknowledges is an issue for police agencies, should be shared as broadly as possible across all levels of government to make body cameras feasible.
“This is a large public interest issue,” MacDonald added.
Reed said Trudeau’s announcement is “very good new,” and she’s glad a dialogue is being created with the provinces.
“But I hope it’s not just a conversation. I hope they actually make it a mandatory piece of equipment for them to have,” she said. “I think they have to be 100 per cent mandatory for our RCMP and city police.”
B.C. has had standards in place for police body cameras since July 2019, but the practice is not mandatory.
CTV News requested an interview with Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, but was told he was not available. In an emailed statement, Farnworth said: “We welcome discussions with our federal and local partners on tools to enhance police accountability – including the use of body cameras.”
The RCMP responded by saying their commissioner has confirmed they will “engage in work and discussion with policing partners and the NPF (National Police Federation) on a broader rollout of body-worn cameras.”
The Vancouver Police Department also responded with a statement. It said the department has previously researched the use of body-cameras, “however we are not currently considering implementation of this technology for a number of reasons.” It added the VPD “may review this in the future.”
Reed said she hopes police body cameras become a reality “as soon as possible.”
“I don’t think there’s time to waste here,” she said.