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Body Worn Camera

The Calgary Police Service body worn camera project is guided by the following five key principles:
  1. Collection of evidence
  2. Enhance transparency, public trust and confidence
  3. Enhance officer accountability and professionalism
  4. Protect officers from unfounded allegations of misconduct
  5. De-escalate a situation

Rollout of the body worn cameras began in 2015 and it is anticipated that by the start of 2017, all uniformed frontline members will be wearing them.

A robust policy has been developed that outlines cameras are to be activated when officers are responding to a call or come across an incident requiring investigation. Recognizing privacy issues, storage capacity and the fact that every situation does not merit the collection of video, the cameras will not be on all the time. A full copy of the Calgary Police Service body worn camera policy can be found at this link.

The matter of balancing privacy with the community benefits of using the technology has been top of mind since the inception of the program. As part of this careful and considered review, we have been working closely with the office of the Privacy Commissioner to ensure they are happy with the steps we are taking. A copy of our Privacy Impact Assessment can be found at this link.

Please find the following frequently asked questions about the project:

What is the purpose of BWCs?
BWCs will be used for
  • The collection of evidence;
  • To enhance transparency, public trust and confidence;
  • To enhance officer accountability and professionalism;
  • To provide the best evidence of police/public interactions;
  • To de-escalate a situation.

Why are the cameras not recording all the time?
We have a duty to ensure the privacy rights of the public are considered at all times and therefore require the ability to turn off the cameras in sensitive situations. Cameras that can never be turned off would not allow police officers the ability to balance the privacy rights of individuals with the benefits of collecting evidence for law enforcement purposes. 

We also have to be mindful of the privacy rights for members wearing the cameras. For example, officers must still be able to take washroom and lunch breaks, have a private conversation, or discuss confidential police tactics without being recorded. One of the main goals of the cameras are to assist the officers in collecting the best evidence possible during an investigative contact. Recording activities that are not required for a law enforcement purpose does not fit within the mandate of the program, or the Service’s expectations as described in the Privacy Impact Assessment.

As well as privacy concerns, the current technology (the life of the battery and the costs associated to data storage) currently prohibit the possibility of recording a full 12 hour shift.

How will cameras be distributed to officers?
BWCs will be worn by all frontline officers.  By March 2016, there will be 1100 cameras deployed.

What happens if I object to being recorded?
Whenever it is safe and practical to do so, a police officer will advise members of the public that they are being recorded. Although a citizen may object to recording, officers will continue to record whenever they are lawfully placed.

How long is footage of my interaction retained for?
CPS will follow Alberta policing standards for retention of all videos. Retention is based on the type of offence and the nature of the investigation.

How will I know when an incident that I was involved in was captured on a body worn camera?
It is the expectation that should a member of the public have an interaction with a police officer that is investigative in nature, a BWC will be activated.

I was a bystander during an incident involving CPS, how do I make sure my image is blurred out?
BWC footage shared through the FOIP process will ensure that all images and audio of people not directly related to the incident are removed.

How do I request access to footage during an interaction I had with a police officer?
Access to footage can be requested through our Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) office.

Will media have access to BWC footage?
Footage from BWCs will be shared with the public and media only when it is deemed necessary for investigative reasons. Should members of the media want access to BWC footage they will need to apply through the FOIP process.

Is the BWCs policy subject to change over time?
This policy is an evergreen document. We anticipate that as the use of BWCs become more prevalent in the country, and the judicial system adapts to the use of BWC footage as evidence, our policy will adjust as needed.