Body Worn Video System
Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras are used by law enforcement agencies to capture audio/video recordings of incidents and interactions with general public, witnesses and/or suspects as they occur to aid in investigations and gathering of evidence. BWV is designed to add value to evidence gathered during an investigation and should not be relied on as the sole source for evidence.
The BWV System (BWVS) is a small camera that is either attached to a police officer's uniform, sunglasses or worn as a headset. The camera records audio and captures video of the officer's interaction with the public. Digital information recorded provides a record of events from an officer's perspective as they conduct their daily duties.
The BWVS is intended to overtly capture an accurate, unbiased and reliable audio/video account of incidents involving uniformed RCMP members. The intention is to enhance transparency and accountability if questions/concerns/accusations arise after an incident, and to provide evidence for prosecution should an incident constitute a crime.
The RCMP conducted a feasibility study of law enforcement use of body worn video (BWV) cameras which involved careful consideration of complex privacy, legal and policy issues. BWV camera equipment and technology is evolving rapidly. The RCMP continually reviews its policies, procedures and equipment to ensure it is using the most effective practices in law enforcement. This includes researching, and pilot testing new technologies. Our objective is to provide our front line officers with tools that are consistent with global changes in technology and social media and enhance their ability to respond to this new reality while ensuring both public and officer safety.
Evaluations were conducted at our training facility (Depot) in Regina, Saskatchewan to determine potential officer safety issues related to the feasibility of law enforcement use of this technology. The low risk Depot training environment provided an opportunity to evaluate the camera technology during scenarios involving all aspects of physical use of force, ranging from lethal confrontations to low risk interventions. Depot trials allowed camera characteristics to be accurately measured to support evaluation of RCMP requirements for the technology against repeatable incidents involving use of force interventions. Based on evaluation criteria and metrics provided in repeatable Depot scenarios, we were able to focus on specific variables during scenarios involving all aspects of physical use of force, ranging from lethal confrontations to low risk interventions to determine the optimal placement of the camera on the police officer in the conduct of his/her duties while still preserving public and officer safety and to determine the most advantageous features of cameras to fulfill the technical requirements of evidence gathering.
Police are making use of a relatively new technology to hold both police officers, and members of the public we interact with, accountable for any actions taken. Body worn video provides increased transparency and accountability for everyone, while also providing a first-person view of what a police officer encounters, in dynamic and high stress situations. Projects such as this one are designed to assess and determine the added value for new policing tools. As a modern police force, the RCMP constantly researches and assesses new technologies, to continue to meet its mandate to protect Canadians. The objective remains to provide our officers with tools that allow them to meet the challenges of modern policing in a constantly changing environment.
Privacy risks were identified in the PIA and mitigating recommendations as follows:
- The RCMP will amend the Personal Information Bank (PIB) RCMP PPU 005 to include information relating to the Body Worn Video System.
- RCMP has policy in place to ensure the consistent retention, purging and storage of BWV recordings.
- RCMP policy for BWV cameras will guides usage in situations where there is a very high expectation of privacy and will provide guidance when activation of camera must occur (i.e. when there is a high likelihood of use of force being applied to a subject).
- RCMP will not record every public encounter or conversation
- BWV camera deployed by the RCMP members in the lawful execution of their duties will be used in an overt capacity
- Where tactically feasible, RCMP members will inform citizens when they are being recorded.
- At the end of each shift, all recorded footage will be uploaded onto an RCMP approved secure storage device for disclosure, retention and purging purposes.
- Individual citizens may request access to their personal information. Requests for public access to BWV recordings under both the Access to Information and Privacy Acts can be submitted to the ATIP webpage.
- The use of BWV cameras will be communicated to the general public, especially in detachment area locations where cameras are deployed, as well as internally to our members to inform on BWV policy and best practices.
The BWVS is used to gather evidence for criminal prosecutions and to meet the RCMP's commitment to building relationships through fostering safe homes and safe communities across Canada. The RCMP mandate of preventing and investigating crime; maintaining peace and order; enforcing laws; contributing to national security; ensuring the safety of state officials and visiting dignitaries; and providing vital operational support services to other police and law enforcement agencies within Canada and abroad will be supported by implementing the BWVS. The BWVS will be operated at the member's discretion based on policy for interactions with the public. The RCMP is committed to safeguarding personal information that is collected and continuously reviews its policies and procedures to ensure compliance to federal legislation.
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