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Calgary police body-worn cameras reduce use-of-force incidents 11%

Camera use in cars and on officers was found to have had a positive impact on police interactions, a Calgary police report showed.

In-vehicle camera use has been in place since 2012. In 2019, the Calgary Police Service (CPS) started equipping officers with body worn cameras.

The Calgary police wanted to provide accountability and increase professionalism among officers who knew they were being recorded. They’ve also used body-worn camera footage to provide video and audio evidence for internal investigations.

An evaluation of the effectiveness of the body camera footage was conducted in late 2020. During the March meeting of the Calgary Police Commission, CPS evaluators found that body-worn cameras had positive impacts.

The report showed that after the first year of body-worn camera deployment, the average time to investigate officer conduct concerns was cut in half. Eighty-four percent are now addressed in three months and 96 per cent within a year.

It also showed an 11 per cent reduction in use-of-force incidents. More than 53,000 videos are captured each month, the police said.

Amanda Welfare with the CPS said Calgary was a leader in the deployment and use of the video technology.

“That said, there’s always opportunity for improvement,” said Welfare. They provided 26 recommendations for the body-worn camera’s further use.

Recommendations moving forward

The report suggested clearer policy and sustained training are needed to ensure use by Calgary police officers. More information on the cameras needs to be shared with the public.

Officers also need to know the role the footage plays in investigating their 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,” said Chief 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.”

The use of body-worn cameras costs the Calgary police $5 million annually.