What does body cam pilot project mean for Barrie officers and citizens?

·2 min read

Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 13, 2020

If you happen to have an interaction with a front-line Barrie police officer, you may be on camera.

The city’s police service rolled out a pilot project Oct. 13, providing 25 officers with body cameras to test how beneficial they are for officer safety and transparency.

An evaluation of the results will take place and a report will be presented to the police services board.

The service is starting the pilot project after studying their use in other jurisdictions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced funding for RCMP body cameras, and Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders is expediting body cameras for his officers. Calgary police are one the few large municipal police services in Canada to use the Axon body cameras.

So what does this mean for Barrie officers and citizens?

Will the cameras always be on?

The short answer is no. Officers will engage the cameras when they arrive on a call or are about to engage in an investigation. The officer controls when the camera is off or on.

What happens to the footage?

The footage is uploaded to a secure server to be used for an ongoing investigation or for court evidence. Footage not needed for court will be deleted within one year.

How will you know when you are being recorded?

The camera will have a flashing red circle when it is recording. The flashing red light can be disabled if it compromises officer safety.

What if you don’t want to be recorded?

Officers do not need consent to record in a public place but must ask permission in a private place, unless they have a search warrant to enter the premises.

Can an officer delete or edit the video?

No. Officers have no control over the video once it is recorded. At the end of their shift, video is uploaded to a secure virtual server and is retained for one year unless needed for court.

Can you view the video?

A written request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is required before a decision can be made to release video or deny its release.

Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance