Body-worn and in-car camera evaluations released
Reports show evidence cameras improve accountability and reduce incidents of officer use of force
Evaluations of our officers’ use of both body-worn and in-car cameras have found evidence that the technologies help create a more efficient accountability process and reduce incidents where force is used.
In-car cameras have been used by our Service since 2012 and body-worn cameras were deployed to all Patrol, Traffic Section and some other front line officers in April 2019. Reviews of both camera systems were conducted in late 2020 to evaluate the impact of these tools, provide improvement recommendations and help guide future strategic decisions.
In the first year after body-worn cameras were deployed, they contributed (along with other reforms) to our Service cutting in half the average time taken to investigate concerns about officer conduct. Eighty-four per cent of conduct concerns are now addressed in less than three months and 96 per cent are addressed within a year.
That same year, there was an 11 per cent reduction in use of force incidents where force beyond handcuffing and basic physical control techniques was used. While there are other factors that contributed to this reduction, cameras are believed to have played a role.
“Our Service is the national leader when it comes to body-worn cameras and we know many agencies across Canada are now looking to us for guidance on how to use this tool,” said Chief Constable Mark Neufeld. “No question there has been a learning curve with this technology, but we are very pleased with the success so far and are fully committed to making the improvements needed to ensure continued success.”
Body-worn cameras have been embraced by both the public and officers, with 95 per cent of Calgarians supporting their use and 94 per cent of officers with cameras using them regularly. Our Service now records over 53,000 videos with body-worn cameras each month, not including the additional video captured by the in-car cameras.
The evaluations also identified some areas for improvement, including:
- Clearer policy and sustained training are needed on the cameras to ensure more consistent use by officers
- More and better information needs to be made available to the public on the cameras
- Front line officers in speciality areas need to be issued cameras
- More effort is needed to ensure officers and the public understand the role camera footage plays in investigations into officer conduct
“Many improvements are already underway to address the issues identified through the review, including issuing cameras to more officers, improving the policy and training and improving the public information available about the cameras,” added Chief Constable Neufeld.
The evaluations were proactively undertaken by our Service to ensure our use of these cameras is meeting the expectations of the public. The promise to release the results publicly was part of our commitment to anti-racism, equity and inclusion in September 2020.
We are pleased to fulfill that commitment by making the reports available on our website.