The Lacombe Police Service currently uses systems to record video evidence including in-car cameras and body worn audio microphones that tie in to the car video system. The use of body-worn cameras is a topic the local police service has been looking in since 2017. File photo

The Lacombe Police Service currently uses systems to record video evidence including in-car cameras and body worn audio microphones that tie in to the car video system. The use of body-worn cameras is a topic the local police service has been looking in since 2017. File photo

Body-worn cameras come with legal issues and privacy concerns: Lacombe Police Service

Central ALberta police service wants to take responsible approach to such technology

Body-worn cameras can help with investigations, says the man in charge at Lacombe Police Service, but there are many hurdles before such technology can be implemented.

Lacombe chief of police Lorne Blumhagen said the technology may provide additional digital evidence that may enhance investigations which would benefit both the public and the police.

There have been demonstrations across the country and around the world since the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis last month. A police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. That incident was captured on video.

Recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said he would push premiers and RCMP to equip police with body-worn cameras. He said it was a relatively simple way to address complaints that officers in Canada treat racialized people unfairly.

Lacombe Police Service has been looking video evidentiary devices since 2017, and although, accountability is partly a reason for the interest, but it isn’t the only intent.

“Our primary considerations for the use of any technology is how does it enhance the delivery of police services, and enhance overall public safety,” said Blumhagen.

“We would definitely use it for public complaints and oversight, but it would be primarily used for evidence gathering for any investigations, whether it be criminal or traffic safety matter or public complain type of investigations.”

However there are many roadblocks ahead before such technology can be implemented including legal challenges, cost, maintenance, resourcing and data storage.

“We are still assessing the want or need versus how we practically and lawfully use this tool,” he said.

Other concerns relate to privacy of the public as well as how much and when the footage or evidence would be used in court.

“Then we have issues around when members are utilizing body-worn cameras, when are they turned on and when are they turned off.

“Do you leave it running for the entirety of the shift? Or do you only turn it on during certain portions of the shift,” explained the chief, adding a police officer’s work day includes paperwork, public engagement and lunch breaks.

“Then we have issues when we get to court on what do we disclose? Do you we have disclose the entirety of the that members’ day or a portion of it?,” he said, adding depending on what the answers are, that footage may have to be vetted, which may require additional resources.

Answering these questions is important to comply with everyone’s charter rights and also rules of evidence for court, the Lacombe police chief noted.

“In managing those systems, how many resources do we need to go through hours of video, vet it, and provide the court with video that is required, and some of those areas have not been clearly defined or researched,” said Blumhagen.

If the system is implemented, the agency would also have to be ready for any future civil court challenges that may come with it.

“We are conscientious that if we are going implement something (like it) that we can be accountable to public, government, the court and our oversight bodies, if we are going to do it, so in my opinion we are taking a fairly responsible approach to it.

The Lacombe Police Service currently uses systems to record video evidence including in-car cameras and body worn audio microphones that tie in to the car video system in addition to interviewing systems. These systems are usually used during traffic stops, but can be used to record various interactions based on a officers discretion, Blumhagen said.

The Red Deer RCMP did not immediately respond to an interview request about the use of body-worn cameras.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Central Alberta Crimecrime

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,516 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

Central zone has 1,849 active cases

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It’s not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he’d been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

Police are still looking for suspects, and have called in their forensics experts to help

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Most Read