January 31, 2010
By NADIA MOHARIB, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Footage caught by a police dash-board camera offered a rare but crucial witness that helped clear five Mounties of any wrongdoing in an in-custody death.
The Brooks RCMP officers involved in the May 6, 2009 incident were cleared earlier this month by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team that looked into their actions and the use of a Taser on a man resisting arrest.
After two jolts with a stun-gun, Grant Prentice died but ASIRT found it was due to cocaine use and not the weapon officers were forced to use.
ASIRT director Clifton Purvis said it is rare to have that sort of evidence but clearly it offers another independent vantage point to support or contradict versions of events from witnesses or police officers involved.
Calgary police Insp. Luch Berti with the investigative support section said the case speaks to the many advantages technology can offer to either exonerate police of any wrongdoing or hold up allegations of misconduct.
“I think it’s excellent,” he said.
“Obviously, it has to be put into context by humans but it’s a video recollection of what transpired.”
While 80% of RCMP cruisers in Alberta are equipped with in-car cameras, Calgary cops currently have just 15, and exclusively in traffic unit vehicles.
The aim behind all high-tech additions to the arsenal is to enhance officer safety, said Berti.
Dash-board cameras can, for instance, offer a deterrent to those who would act aggressively or inappropriately towards police during something as benign as a traffic stop.
“If they knew police had video on them maybe they would behave better or react differently,” Berti said.
It “works both ways,” he said, offering another vantage point should there be questions of police conduct.
The Police Association president, John Dooks, said another snapshot of a particular scenario is always an advantage.
“We are in full support of the in-car camera system and as demonstrated in recent incidents it will be a valuable tool in dealing with complaints and identifying any training issues,” he said.
“The recordings will provide an accurate picture of what happened and assist any investigation process.”
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Sunday, January 31, 2010
January 31, 2010