Police body cameras in Canada are useful for capturing hard details during interactions with the public or the police force. They’re important for fostering public trust and accountability from both sides of the interaction during litigation and trials as well. The camera doesn’t lie.
1. Who has access to the body worn camera footage?
Body worn cameras are utilized by traffic, patrol, and specialty officers. Certain regional police jurisdictions in Alberta do not wear body worn camera footage. However, the Calgary Police Service utilize these cameras. This footage may only be accessed by specific individuals involved in your criminal charge. Every individual that has been charged with a criminal offence has the right to all the evidence obtained by police. This means that if body worn camera footage was captured, the individual charged and their legal counsel has the right to view any video evidence relating to their matter. The courts may also have access as necessary.
2. How is body worn camera footage used in my case?
Body worn camera footage will be used to verify details claimed by the accused, their accuser, or witnesses. This may include statements or actions. When cellphone footage from civilians is consulted, often only a portion of the act is documented. However, body worn camera footage can be useful for the defence counsel as the entire incident may be recorded. Additionally, the footage may be used to validate key details with transparency and accountability since the memories of the people involved may blur over time. The lawyers at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence have extensive experience in reviewing body camera footage and excel at identifying relevant details for your matter. Your defence lawyer will closely review all video to determine if any of your Charter rights were violated during your interaction with law enforcement .
3. How does the body worn camera function?
The body camera footage includes sound. Police officers using body cameras have the discretion to decide when to use their body cam. This means the officer alone possess the ability to turn the camera on and off when they consider necessary. However, turning the camera on and off at key intervals may bring the accuracy and reliability of the video into question. An additional feature is that the recording will automatically include the 30 seconds before the camera was switched on but often without sound.
4. Will I know if I’m being recorded?
The ability for an individual to recognize that the camera is actively recording is situationally dependent. The body worn camera is visibly attached to the front of the officer’s chest. The device size is similar to a pack of cards. Typically, if the device is recording, a small red light will appear. However, this feature may be disabled, and the light will not be visible if the officer is concerned for their safety. Although the Calgary Police Department trains officers to inform individuals that a recording has begun, it is not a requirement.
5. Is any sensitive information redacted from the footage?
Body worn camera footage will be reviewed and vetted before it is accessible for viewing. The private information of third parties involved in the matter will be redacted from the video. For instance, this may include blurring the face of children visible on the footage or removing portions of the sound when birthdates of witnesses are provided to officers. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act applies to any recordings captured by the camera.
The footage from the body worn camera could play a major role in defending your criminal charges. Our team of talented lawyers at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence will review the footage in detail in conjunction with the other evidence and create a strategic defence of your criminal charges.