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Police chief talks body-worn cameras, nuisance fireworks, and July road stats

On The Mike Farwell Show
Bryan Larkin
KitchenerToday file photo of Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin

Waterloo Regional Police are asking for your feedback on officer-worn body cameras.

As part of a pilot project, more than 100 body-worn and in-car cameras have been deployed in the Waterloo area as well as with the traffic services branch.

The pilot project started in June and is set to run until December and police are now asking for your input.

"From the public we're just looking at what kind of objectives do they view this to be around," said WRPS Police Chief Bryan Larkin during a monthly segment on The Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS. "Is it enhancing the interaction with the officer, is it enhancing and can it lead to increased police accountability, is it capturing accurate records of the interaction with the community and/or public, will it enhance public and/or police officers' safety?"

Larkin says police will also be looking at if the project helps strengthen the service's commitment to bias-neutral policing as well as any privacy concerns.

"Over the last seven years of my tenure as the Chief of Police, internally and externally, I've always said it's not a matter of if we'll deploy this technology, it's a matter of when," said Larkin.

Police are particularly interested in hearing from people who have had an interaction with an officer using a body-worn or in-car camera, or both.


Nuisance fireworks

During the call-in portion of Tuesday's show, the police chief was also asked about the growing problem of nuisance fireworks.

"One of the things we've been seeing, particularly on the long weekends, there's been no organized fireworks and so people have been doing their at-home stuff," Larkin said. "The amount of complaints that our communications centre is receiving is inordinate and we need to do something."

"There's a lot of people unhappy with people lighting fireworks in their neighbourhood."

Larkin says he's been reaching out to local municipalities, encouraging them to update their bylaws with respect to fireworks.

"Quite frankly, what we're seeing, is a low level of compliance with the municipal bylaws," he said. "So, for example, if the bylaw says you can do it on July 1st, what we're seeing is people doing it on July 1st, July 2nd, July 3rd, July 4th."

He says municipalities should take another look at the bylaws, potentially further limiting when personal fireworks can be lit, when they can be sold, and stiffening the consequences of breaking the rules.

In the end though, Larkin says nuisance fireworks are a problem which rests with the cities and local bylaw officers, not the police who don't have the resources.

"We're pulled in many different ways and we're doing the best we can with the resources we have," he said. "We're the 10th largest community in Canada and we're the 13th largest police service in Canada."

"So we don't necessarily have all the proactive resources we once enjoyed."

Larkin says officers who once would have been on foot or bike, especially over a long weekend, are now needed in their cruisers.

"Over the weekend, the call demand for WRPS was non stop."


July road stats

The police chief also out with another warning for local drivers as well as those from out of town looking to show off.

Larkin says there were just over 1,300 charges under the Highway Traffic Act last month. 783 speeding charges were laid including 61 for stunt driving. There were also 49 criminal charges for impaired driving.

"The reality is that all of this is preventable and it's preventable by the individual that's driving," said Larkin. "So if you're speeding, raise your right foot."

"People choose to drink and drive," he said.

Larkin also says police are also looking to crack down on pop-up car shows.

"August, our traffic branch is really focused on pop-up car rallies and modified cars," he said. "We're seeing this resurgence again of this phenomenon of street racing and illegally modified cars."

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