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22 June, 2024
 
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Police union takes issue with police body cam bill

Organized officers raise concerns as House committee debates body cameras for police

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Cypriot law enforcement officers could soon were body cameras while responding to incidents, but a bill proposal going through a House committee this week could be delayed by objections from police unions.

A bill proposal drafted in late 2022 could amend legislation in such a way that it would allow some police officers in some cases to use a body camera that can capture video and audio during a response to an incident.

The House legal committee is expected to debate the bill on Wednesday, including specific terms and conditions on the use of recording equipment.

But media reports said letters submitted to the committee this week suggested there were a number of objections from the Cyprus Police Association.

Nicos Loizides, who leads police union Isotita, told a Sigmalive TV news program on Tuesday that his organization viewed cameras as a “necessary measure” to modernize the Force.

The bill lists a number of situations where a body cam could be used, such as arresting or searching a suspect, as well as 'high risk operations' but Loizides says 'interpretation here is not simple'

“But this has to be done under the right circumstances,” Loizides said, adding that Isotita legal advisors were still looking at the bill and a report after getting copies just 48 hours earlier.

Loizides said the advisors had already spotted four or five issues that “looked good on paper but could be difficult to implement.”

The bill reportedly itemizes a number of situations where a body cam could be used, such as arresting or searching a suspect, chasing an individual or vehicle, as well as “high risk operations.”

“The interpretation here is not a simple one,” Loizides said, suggesting individuals would have different definitions of what constituted a high risk operation or takedown.

The bill also calls for cameras to be used during incidents of public disorder or when officer believe they are being obstructed from carrying out their lawful duties.

Recorded video and audio may also be used as evidence in a court of law, with legislators tasking the Chief of Police with the decision on when to delete footage after the completion of case.

The bill also calls on officers to inform citizens whenever possible if they are being recorded.

But Loizides took issue with another provision that calls for footage to be deleted after 30 days if it has no relevance to a case.

The Isotita representative said he was concerned over citizens filing false complaints against officers after the deletion of footage.

“What happens if someone comes and says last year in January, Nicos Loizides hit me, and we have already destroyed the footage that would have vindicate me, evidence that could prove my innocence?” he asked.

Loizides said his group had spotted multiple issues that need to be discussed, saying it would take a lot more than a couple of meetings with the Legal committee to sort things out.

But Police Chief Stylianos Papatheodorou is reportedly in favor of the bill going through the House without delays.

According to daily Politis, the chief described the bill as “very important” and called for its immediate approval by the House.

Politis also said high ranking officers also had issues with the bill.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  police  |  body camera  |  evidence  |  union  |  Isotita  |  House  |  bill  |  legislation

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