CALGARY – Calgary police are giving the public a closer look at the new body worn cameras that officers are wearing and explaining just how they’re used:
The cameras are worn on an officer’s chest and replace the previously existing police radios worn by officers for years. They can also be used to take still images instead of video.
Speaking to Global Calgary’s Morning News on Thursday, Acting Staff Sgt. Todd Robertson said the expectation is that the cameras will be rolling anytime there is “investigative or enforcement-related contact” between an officer and a member of the public.
“Of course there is discretion built into that,” Robertson added. “These cameras will not be recording an entire shift. The reason for that is that is that we’re looking after the privacy concerns of the public.”
“There are going to be certain instances where we’re dealing with a confidential informant, a sexual assault victim giving us a statement or something like that, these are things that the officer is going to make the decision to not record.”
Robertson says the privacy of their officers is also a concern.
“Throughout the day they’re going to be having private conversations with a partner, they’re going to be walking through the locker room, taking a coffee break, going to the bathroom – things like these we obviously don’t want to capture on camera.”
WATCH: Calgary Police demonstrate body worn cameras
Most often, officers are going to inform people when they begin recording. However, Robertson said there are certain types of calls where the officer “isn’t going to have the opportunity” to announce they are recording.
Officers have found the cameras have the ability to “de-escalate” potentially volatile situations.
“People tend to react differently when they know that they’re being recorded,” said Robertson.
He anticipates the cameras will add to transparency and enhance public trust.
The footage recorded on body cameras is uploaded to a private server at the end of each officer’s shift as the device is charging.
The Calgary Police Service (CPS) said in November that they expect all frontline members of the service to be using body cameras “by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017.”
As of January, officers in the traffic unit and in District 1 (in the downtown core) are equipped with the cameras.
The total cost of the program is $1.3 million over two years.
More information on the CPS policy regarding body cameras can be found on the Calgary Police Service website.
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