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Alberta police taking steps to mandate body cams

Alberta’s government is partnering with the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police to develop the mandate and standards required to implement the use of body-worn cameras provincewide.

The government is trying to find out how the costs and logistics will work including asking front-line police officers. The Alberta government in a press release says split-second decisions can cause the public to raise concerns about the actions taken and whether appropriate force was used and the doubts erode public safety and can create further delays in Alberta’s justice system.

Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services adds to the topic saying that mandating police to wear body-worn cameras is a transformational decision that will ensure all interactions with officers are objective.

“Whether living in large cities or smaller rural communities, Albertans have the right to feel safe and have trust that police will assist and be fair in doing so.”

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The body-worn cameras are small cameras worn on either the law enforcement officer’s chest or head to record interactions with the public. The cameras will also have a microphone and internal data storage to save video footage.

Alberta will be the first province to mandate all police services to equip officers with body-worn cameras if the logistics are sorted out.

“AACP looks forward to receiving details of the body-worn camera mandate to support transparency and further build trust within our communities and welcomes the opportunity to work together to support this,” said Dean LaGrange, chief, Camrose Police Service and vice-president, Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police said in the press release.

Staff Sargent Sarah Parke, with the Bonnyville RCMP department, says bodycams will be a positive thing for RCMP members.

“There are several benefits to having them and transparency is one of them and that goes both ways. It goes for police officers’ actions as well as any clients we are dealing with so it just provides an independent unbias objective way to capture these interactions that the police are having with community members.”

Parke says the cameras can also help with the timely resolution of complaints and evidence gathering.

“When the officer attends the scene of a complaint where a crime has been committed the body-worn camera will help by simply taking footage of the scene. Something might get captured that isn’t noticed at the time in real-time but after looking at the footage afterward the fact might be beneficial in court as evidence.”

Parke highlights these cameras are not intended for 24-hour recording or surveillance and will be turned off when officials are conducting any personal searches or when privacy is needed.

By Zachary Ferguson-Frick

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