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Five BC RCMP detachments chosen to initially deploy body-worn cameras

Rollout expected in fall at the earliest for Mission, Cranbrook, Prince George, Kamloops and Tofino

Mission will be among the first RCMP detachments in the province to use body-worn cameras.

Officers from the Mission RCMP will participate in the initial deployment of body cameras in the province with a rollout expected in Fall 2024 at the earliest.

Detachments in Cranbrook, Kamloops, Prince George and Tofino/Ahousaht will also be a part of the initial rollout.

The locations were chosen based on geography, technical capabilities and operational factors, BC RCMP assistant commissioner John Brewer wrote to the City of Mission in November.

Once it begins, Brewer expects the complete rollout of cameras for BC RCMP frontline members to take between 18 months and two years.

The City of Mission says body-worn cameras are accounted for in the 2024/25 financial plan and onwards, with $3,000 per frontline member. The total of $156,000 for 52 members is an annual cost to cover the equipment, software and support staff.

Field tests for Motorola body-worn cameras began in Alberta, Manitoba and Nunavut in May 2023 and lasted for 10 weeks. However, the RCMP determined the proposal didn’t meet the field test requirements.

More field tests started this week with the same detachments as 2023.

BC RCMP says the objectives of the body-worn camera project are strengthening transparency, accountability and public trust, resolving public complaints more quickly, improving interactions between the public and police and improving evidence gathering.

The cameras will use a cloud-based Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) to store video evidence to support court proceedings and access to information requests.

According to the RCMP website, Mounties will activate their body-worn cameras during calls for service including mental health calls, crimes in progress, interactions with people in crisis, investigations, public disorder and protests, and “to record information to support the performance of their duties”. The body cameras won’t be used for 24-hour recording, surveillance or intimate searches.

The National Police Federation (NPF) is the union representing RCMP members across the country. NPF Pacific/North director Rob Farrer says he’s talked to a lot of members about body cameras but hasn’t heard any pushback.

“On the public complaint side, I think our members are very supportive of getting as much evidence and context around the interactions between themselves and the public [as possible],” Farrer said.

However, there are policy-related concerns with the body cameras, Farrer says.

“The bigger concern that I think they have is more about the back end stuff like downloading, vetting privacy information — that type of stuff. When does the camera go on? When does it come off? All the privacy and policy-related stuff — we want to make sure that isn’t taking away from core policing duties,” Farrer said.

Farrer doesn’t expect body cameras to lead to a shift in policing itself.

“It’s not the same argument that you would have in the States about this. I think for us, it’s more about [getting] the best data and view on any incident that happens — the best evidence,” Farrer said.

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Dillon White

About the Author: Dillon White

I joined the Mission Record in November of 2022 after moving to B.C. from Nova Scotia earlier in the year.
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