Body-worn cameras can provide an audio-visual record of events from a municipal enforcement officer’s point of view. These records can potentially be relied upon as evidence for bylaw prosecutions; to address allegations of wrong doing by a bylaw enforcement or municipal peace officer; or to record evidence in support of the issuance of an enforcement order.
There are some important considerations that municipalities should take into account before adopting body-worn cameras, including:
• How body-worn cameras can be integrated into existing processes and obligations dictated by the Municipal Government Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
• Privacy legislation obligations and requirements related to the collection, use and security of personal information that will be collected by body-worn cameras; and
• The cost of body-worn cameras, including acquisition costs, as well as costs of employee training, costs associated with the development of associated policies, and costs associated with the storage and security of the personal and confidential information that is collected.
The cameras, mounted on an officer’s chest, first came on the market in the mid-2000s and were hailed as a tool that would reduce use-of-force incidents, make police more accountable and save money. Erick Laming, a doctoral student in criminology at the University of Toronto, said that as in Alberta, the debate over body cameras in Canada is still not settled. “The theory behind it is it’s supposed to be objective video evidence of encounters between the public and the police,” Laming said. The reality, he says, is more complicated.