Alberta RCMP officers to begin testing body cameras this month

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Alberta RCMP officers to begin testing body cameras
RCMP officers in some parts of Alberta will start wearing body cameras this month. This is the next phase in a national rollout of the devices following mounting criticisms on police interactions with community members. Kabi Moulitharan has more on the changes. – Feb 2, 2024

The Alberta RCMP says some officers across the province will begin field testing body-worn cameras this month.

In a news release Friday, the RCMP said frontline members in Grande Prairie, St. Paul and Parkland County will field test the cameras for a period of eight to 10 weeks.

The RCMP said officers will “usually” be wearing the cameras in the middle of their chest.

A spokesperson for the RCMP said the public will know it’s recording because a red light will be visible on the camera.

“Body-worn cameras can help increase trust between police and the communities they serve because the video evidence collected will provide an independent, unbiased and objective way to capture interactions between the public and police officers,” said Fraser Logan, Alberta RCMP media relations manager.

The move is part of a national rollout, expected to take 12 to 18 months, which the RCMP says will likely become the standard for “general duty” Mounties.

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“I think police officers are under a lot of pressure in today’s world to be accountable,” said Cpl. Troy Savinkoff, public information officer with the Alberta RCMP. “Police in general are very supportive of any evidence they can show of what they are articulating, as evidence, or about interactions with the public, and to have those cameras there is like a double confirmation of what they’re saying so I think they’re pretty supportive of that.”

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The RCMP said it will also be testing a new digital evidence management system, that accompanies the cameras, during this period.

The field tests are also taking place in RCMP detachments in Nova Scotia and Nunavut and will help inform the broader use of body cameras in RCMP detachments across the country. About 300 cameras will be rolled out in the test locations with the goal of eventually having 10,000 cameras on officers across the country.

The RCMP said the field tests are part of the final stage of the procurement process and will be used to inform roll out to RCMP detachments across the country which is expected to happen in a phased approach.

This is the second time officers in Alberta will be testing the devices after the RCMP decided to go with a second contractor.

“We previously tried another product, we figured it didn’t meet our requirements and now we’re going to the next product that was provided by another contractor,” said Savinkoff.

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In 2020, the federal Liberals provided nearly $240 million to equip RCMP officers across the country with body-worn video cameras in a bid to improve police accountability.

Savinkoff said the cameras, along with their operation, cost about $3,000 per year.

“It helps us to increase our transparency to the public. This is after issues that were raise by racialized and Indigenous communities,” Savinkoff said. “We’re hoping it will speed up our processes, if there were any concerns with that, and of course our evidentiary component where it will increase the amount of evidence we can obtain during interactions with the public.”

Click to play video: 'The effectiveness of police body cameras'
The effectiveness of police body cameras


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