Alberta orders all police services to wear body cameras

EDMONTON — The Alberta government plans to require all police services in the province to wear body cameras.

Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis said on Tuesday that officers often respond to complex calls and make split-second decisions.

That can raise public concerns about the officers’ actions and whether appropriate force was used.

“Forcing police to wear body cameras is a transformative decision that will ensure that all interactions with officers are objective,” Ellis said.

“Police are responding to complex calls that may involve vulnerable Albertans (who) are experiencing mental health crises, suffering from addiction, or are experiencing difficult times in their (life) that (are) clouding their decision-making abilities. “.

Ellis said the provincial government will work with the Alberta Police Chiefs Association on funding, logistics and when the cameras will be deployed. He said the association will develop a mandate in the coming months to “rapidly bring body cameras to the streets as soon as possible.”

He said Alberta would be the first province to require body cameras.

“Police will know that appropriate action and use of the correct amount of force are required in every incident, and police officers who use excessive force will face appropriate discipline thanks to body camera footage,” Ellis said.

The Alberta Police Chiefs Association said it supports the move and that Calgary police have already implemented the devices.

“There has never been such scrutiny on the police before, and for good reason. We have arrest powers and are held to a very high standard,” said Camrose Police Chief Dean LaGrange, vice president of the association.

#Alberta the first province to require body cameras for all police officers. #abpoli #ableg #bodycameras

“The cameras are a good source of protection, not only for the public, but also for the police officers who use them.”

Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee said details of the cost and how the cameras will reach all police services will be forthcoming.

The cameras will help ensure the public gets the full story, he said.

“If you don’t have this transparency, what happens is you get video snapshots, whether it’s from a cell phone, whether it’s from different cameras, just showing one image,” McFee said. “That takes its toll on everyone, because sometimes the devil in detail is much more than a snapshot in time.”

Irfan Sabir, the Alberta NDP’s justice critic, said he supports more transparency, but there aren’t many details in the plan.

“There are no timelines, no funding and a lack of clarity on how the vast amount of data generated by body cameras will be managed,” Sabir said.

He added that the province’s police watchdog, the Alberta Major Incident Response Team, has a “large backlog of cases.”

“If the (United Conservative Party government) were serious about transparency, they would focus on removing this backlog so that law enforcement is held accountable and Albertans have access to justice.”

Dunia Nur, chair of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council, said she will be watching closely “to ensure that the implementation of police body cameras includes anti-racist policies and practices, and that gaps identified in other jurisdictions have been addressed to create a more just society.” and equitable”.

Ellis said the mandate does not cover the RCMP, but the federal government has indicated it will move toward more body cameras in the future.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 14, 2023.

Leave a Comment