EPS Body Worn Video Pilot Project Completed
Graduated Deployment of BWV Cameras to Specialized Units
The Edmonton Police Service has completed a comprehensive three-year study to assess the effectiveness of body worn video (BWV) for use by its officers, and as a result of the research findings, will proceed with a graduated deployment of cameras to specialized police units at this time.
The EPS BWV pilot project ran from October 2011 to December 2014, with operational field testing through a variety of environments from October 2012 to July 2014.
This project was partially funded through the Canadian Police Research Centre and continued under the Canadian Safety and Security Program, which is a federal program led by Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science, in partnership with Public Safety Canada.
From the outset, privacy has been a major consideration of the EPS BWV project. The EPS research team consulted with the Alberta Privacy Commissioner who provided valuable insight and recommendations. Respective of this input, the EPS created policies and procedures for the BWV pilot project that aligned with the BWV guidance document issued by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
As part of the BWV testing, the EPS issued 56 industry-standard cameras to officers in: Downtown Division and Beats; West Edmonton Mall and Whyte Avenue Beats; the Impaired Driving Countermeasures Unit; and with the Disaster and Emergency Operations Unit for a training exercise with Fire Rescue and EMS.
While the body worn video project reviewed technical performance, legal considerations, and usefulness in everyday policing and investigations, it also surveyed the public and police officers on their opinion.
Based on the pilot project findings, the EPS has decided to proceed with a graduated deployment of a body worn video program over the next two to five years.
Cameras will be used by officers who are involved in high-risk interactions with the public, where the officers are on the scene of a crime being committed, and the evidence captured on video is of the greatest value in providing information to the courts. Examples include: the Specialized Traffic Apprehension Team (STAT) that intercept high-risk vehicles; the Impaired Driving Countermeasures Unit for Checkstop operations; Tactical Team entries where weapons may be involved; and the Public Order Unit when responding to riots.
The graduated roll-out of BWV will require training of officers, revising instructional materials, modifying police uniforms to carry cameras, as well as submitting a service package for funding, sourcing newer BWV cameras, and utilizing a new digital asset management system.
The EPS will continue to work with the justice system to effectively track the tangible benefits of BWV in the criminal justice system, partner with other agencies to improve policies on the use of BWV, and accurately track the true costs of BWV. After a one-year period, the EPS will report back to the Edmonton Police Commission with its findings for further direction.
Body worn video footage will only be released to the public or media if there is a significant public need, such as where there is a duty to warn.
Requests for BWV footage need to be made to the EPS Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPP) Unit. Requests will be processed on a case-by-case basis, however, video footage forms evidence and will likely not be released if there is a pending prosecution. Necessary redacting of identifiable persons or information that cannot be disclosed may result in significant costs to both the applicant and the EPS. Body worn video is collected for law enforcement purposes only and not for entertainment.
The project and its findings reflect body worn video use within the Canadian law enforcement and legal environment, so its recommendations cannot necessarily be prescribed to jurisdictions in other countries. However, because the technology is still evolving, the EPS is sharing its research findings with police agencies across North America also considering body worn cameras for its officers.
Body Worn Video Pilot Project Final Report