Earlier this month the provincial government announced a mandate for body-worn cameras for police services in Alberta. The mandate is included in Bill 6, which is the Police Act Amendment.
The police body-worn camera mandate will require municipal governments to budget for the program. In Cochrane, the RCMP is the municipal police force, and it has already been looking into implementing the program. For that reason, the Town Administration had been anticipating the program coming to Cochrane and is not blindsided by the mandate. Stacey Loe, Executive Director of Protective and Community Services for the Town of Cochrane says, “It is something that we have been anticipating, but certainly without any known costs, we have not been able to specifically budget for its implementation.” With the province’s announcement, Loe suspects things may move along a little quicker saying, “I anticipate, based on our discussions with Mr. Ellis, (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services) that we should see the regulations and the requirements come into place within the next three to four months.” It is at that point that the Town administration will have to look at what the cost per member will be for Cochrane to implement the body-worn camera program for police officers.
In the meeting with Minister Ellis, he was not able to confirm if the mandate will apply to peace officers. Loe says, “They are specifically focused on police services, but he did indicate that was something they were going to take back and give some consideration to.”
While the dollars and cents for the mandate remain unclear, Loe says from a fundamental perspective, “We support anything that will increase the safety of both the members and the public and certainly appreciate the fact that it will increase the efficiency in investigating complaints against police officers or questions around the conduct of the public members when interacting with police.”
Airdrie has already mandated their officers to have body-worn cameras and while the situation is not identical to Cochrane, it is known the cost was approximately $3000 to outfit each officer with the body-worn camera. The cost would need to include the system used to download the videos from the cameras.
Once the provincial regulations come into effect and the timeline for implementation is known, then the Town of Cochrane will have a better understanding of what the cost will be and whether it can be accommodated in this year’s operating budget or plan for the 2024 budget.