Calgary

Calgary police now have 1,150 body-worn cameras on front-line officers

For the first time, the Calgary Police Service says all of its front-line officers are now equipped with body worn cameras.

Police pulled the cameras from officers in 2016 due to technical glitches but say this time, they got it right

A Calgary police officers holds up his Axon body worn camera. (Helen Pike/CBC)

It's their second try at rolling out a body-worn camera program and, this time, Calgary police say they got it right.

For the first time, all of the Calgary Police Service's front-line officers are now equipped with the devices.

Staff Sgt. Travis Baker says Calgarians will see the Axon cameras on officers throughout the city, from the mountain-bike patrol to the traffic team.

"We have 1,150 cameras outfitting all of our front-line officers that pretty much covers our full deployment," he said.

"It took about a year to get that done — to get all the cameras, all the people trained and all the people equipped and running."

'Video to back up your words'

Technical problems with the service's first purchase of body-worn cameras pushed the program's rollout back by a few years.

Since May, the second attempt at a full rollout has been in full swing.

"We tested them for several months to make sure that everything worked properly and we didn't have any issues so we went ahead with a full deployment," Baker said.

"Our front-line patrol officers have adopted it very quickly and they seem to really enjoy having them. As a matter of fact, they hear from some of the officers they don't want to go without it. There is a comfort in knowing that you have the video to back up your words."

Chief Mark Neufeld says he hopes the new devices will soon show their value.

"We're looking for things like a reduction in use of force," he said. "We're looking for things like a reduction in complaints against police officers."

"And then the other thing you want to see is what kind of impact the video, itself, is having on convictions," Neufeld added.

"Presumably one of the things that might happen is, if you have video of an incident or a crime, you would maybe have a more smooth court process. Perhaps you'd get a guilty plea instead of going to an expensive trial."

Other police looking to Calgary

Since rolling out the body-worn camera program, Baker says Calgary police have been contacted by police agencies across Canada interested in implementing their own programs. 

"We've heard from probably about a dozen different agencies across the country — some that I've never even heard of," he said. 

"We've also trained the Tsuut'ina police. They're now using our cameras to see results. We actually brought them in-house. We trained them here at CPS."

About the Author

Lucie Edwardson

Journalist

Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary. In 2018 she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alberta. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson

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