2 Calgary police officer-involved shootings renew calls for body worn cameras

Click to play video: 'Family of Anthony Heffernan call for urgency in rollout of police worn body cameras'
Family of Anthony Heffernan call for urgency in rollout of police worn body cameras
WATCH ABOVE: The two officer involved shootings over the weekend for some have underscored an urgency to introduce police worn body cameras. But technical issues have delayed their use in Calgary. Sarah Offin reports – Sep 20, 2016

Two officer-involved shootings in Calgary over the weekend have renewed calls for police officers to be required to wear body cameras.

In one instance, an officer fired his gun after a Taser was ineffective and the suspect attacked with a machete. In the second, an officer fired after a suspect with a rifle in his car disobeyed police instructions and attempted to flee.

Alberta’s police watchdog is now investigating the actions of the officers involved, scouring surveillance footage and looking for witnesses.

Some suggest if officers were wearing body cameras, the process would be easier.

Watch below from January 2016: Acting Staff Sergeant Todd Robertson from the Calgary Police Service shows Global Calgary how body worn cameras work as all front-line officers prepare for the technology to be a permanent part of their uniforms.

Click to play video: 'How Calgary Police body-worn cameras work'
How Calgary Police body-worn cameras work

One former research and planning analyst for the Calgary Police Service (CPS) doesn’t think body cameras deter the use of force, but agrees they are needed.

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“It would be useful to confirm or disconfirm what the officer thought they perceived,” Mount Royal University professor of justice studies Doug King said.

READ MORE: Get an inside look at the body worn cameras used by Calgary police

The CPS wrapped up its pilot project on body cameras last fall and was set to roll out the technology by the end of 2016 or early 2017. However, software and technical issues with the CPS’ current vendor caused 100 cameras to be recalled.

The CPS said Monday it’s in the process of “resolving these challenges.”

“Less than five cameras remain in working mode, however, they are not used on a regular basis,” the CPS said in a statement.

“We remain committed to providing all front-line officers with body worn cameras, with public and officer safety always of paramount concern.”

CPS says the service is pushing for 1,000 officers to be wearing the cameras in 2017, but isn’t sure about the timing.

Watch below (Nov. 26, 2015): After years of testing, Calgary police officers will soon be wearing body cameras on patrol. As Tony Tighe reports, the cameras are meant to help police provide evidence in criminal charges.

READ MORE: Calgary police expand body worn camera rollout

“Calgary is ahead of the curve in Canada, but Canada is behind the curve,” King said. “In the United States, many cities have been using body cameras for many years, so we are kind of playing catch-up.”

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King said that’s largely to do with a lack of money in police service budgets.

In response to the ASIRT investigation into the Anthony Heffernan case, Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin said the service is “strongly committed to body-worn cameras” and that he was “pushing as hard as [he] can to get them out.”

“It’s something that adds to heightened transparency, accountability,” he said in August.

READ MORE: ASIRT investigation clears Calgary officer who shot and killed Anthony Heffernan

Chaffin noted there’s no way to determine what would’ve happened retrospectively in specific cases, but cameras would help understand what people are seeing, particularly in “chaotic environments.”

“I want our members to be able to more accurately describe what happened and what they’re seeing at the time in making decisions, just to help both public confidence and member confidence.”

READ MORE: Calgary police union suggests ASIRT ‘lost its way’ in Heffernan shooting probe

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