Over the past year, Cobourg Police have implemented a program for Police Officers to wear Body Worn Cameras (BWCs). The Town separately employs By-Law enforcement officers and the Police agreed to provide 3 BWCs to the town for use by these officers. The cost to the Town will be $3,907 per year. These cameras are intended to protect both the Public and Officers when there is public interaction and they are not turned on 100% of the time. In fact officers must advise the public when they are operating. The Police have a web page that explains Police usage and at the next Committee of the Whole Meeting on 15 August, Council will be asked to approve a comprehensive 11 page Policy governing their use by By-Law officers.
Given the number of rules in the Policy, it’s clear that officers will need training – and this is planned.
Cobourg’s BWC Policy Highlights
Purpose of Policy
- Improve the transparency of the Town with regards to any potential allegations of discreditable conduct, improper conduct, or other types of misconduct by staff.
- Protecting individuals’ right to privacy by limiting access to recordings from body-worn cameras to the greatest extent possible and to as few people as possible.
Use of BWCs
- Officers shall activate their BWC as soon as reasonably possible, prior to arriving at a call for service
- Officers can deactivate their BWC once the interaction with the public is complete.
- Protect individuals’ right to privacy by limiting access to recordings from body-worn cameras to the greatest extent possible and to as few people as possible.
- Officers shall not intentionally prevent the BWC from capturing video or audio during an interaction with a member of the public with the sole exception of temporarily covering the lens to protect the dignity of an individual during situations of a sensitive nature (e.g. nudity!)
The BWCs shall not generally be used to record:
- Communications with other Town staff
- When on break or otherwise in personal activities.
- In any location where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a restroom or locker room.
- No officer shall use a BWC to intercept communications that they are not party to.
- Officers must wherever possible inform members of the public that they are being recorded at the earliest opportunity during an interaction.
- The Town will post its BWC Policy on its web site plus how to complain and other information
- Recordings will be kept for 60 days or 2 years if used in an investigation.
The rules are based on work done in other Municipalities (notably Toronto) and are no doubt similar to Police rules.
Since Council have already approved deployment of BWCs to By-Law Officers, it’s expected that Council will approve the Policy.
- Police Web page explaining BWC usage.
- Draft Body Worn Camera Policy – for Council approval
- Toronto’s report on usage of BWCs – Model Governance Framework for Police Body Worn Camera Programs