The Delta Police Department is asking for the public’s feedback as it considers expanding the use of body-worn cameras to more front-line patrol officers. (Delta Police Department photo)

The Delta Police Department is asking for the public’s feedback as it considers expanding the use of body-worn cameras to more front-line patrol officers. (Delta Police Department photo)

Public input sought as Delta police look at expanding use of body-worn cameras

Department currently has 16 cameras for use by anti-gang and traffic section officers

The Delta Police Department is looking at expanding the use of body-worn cameras and is asking for the public to weigh in before a decision is made.

In a press release Thursday, the DPD said body-worn cameras (BWCs) are an important tool with multi-faceted benefits for both the community and the department, including (but not limited to) increased public trust and confidence, increased police accountability and transparency, reduced use of force incidences by and against the police, , improved evidence documentation, enhanced resolution of complaints about alleged police misconduct, and providing enhanced training resources when used for training.

“The ongoing BWC program holds value in encouraging and promoting public confidence and trust in policing along with various other benefits. This is especially important during increased calls for police modernization,” DPD Chief Neil Dubord said in a press release.

“Moreover, this program is aligned with the DPD’s Community Safety and Well-being Plan goals of leveraging technology to enhance and develop efficiencies for continuous improvement and utilizing technological and equipment advancements for officer safety.”

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Over the past two years, the department has taken a phased approach in implementing its BWC pilot program.

In December of 2020, BWC deployment was authorized internally for training purposes, as well as “in support of policing organized or spontaneously-occurring events,” involving civil disobedience, breaches of the peace, violence against persons or property, or targeted interference with economic interests.

In May of 2021, the DPD’s anti-gang Violence Suppression Team became the first front-line police officers in B.C. to regularly use BWCs. The team was formed in the wake of the fatal shooting of 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa at a gas station outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall during a surge in gang-related violence across the Lower Mainland.

Four months later, the team’s temporary authorization to use BWCs was made permanent, and the DPD’s traffic section became the next group of officers temporarily authorized to use the cameras — a move that was made permanent on June 22 of this year.

According to police, persons filmed by DPD officers using a BWC are told they are being filmed unless it is unsafe in the moment to do so. The circumstances under which the cameras may be used are limited in accordance with policy, and officers are not allowed to film continuously or indiscriminately.

The release notes the use of BWCs is regulated both by the Police Act and the DPD’s own policies, and collection and management of recordings is informed by and compliant with a program-specific privacy impact assessment and the B.C. Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The DPD currently has 16 BWCs available for use by officers, with a total purchase cost of $18,000 for the cameras and associated equipment. However, about half of that cost was funded by a Police Training and Equipment Grant from B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Office.

The DPD is considering expansion of the BWC pilot program to additional sections of the department. Community input is valuable and the DPD is seeking public input regarding the expansion of the BWC pilot program for operational use.

Members of the community who want to know more about the DPD’s BWC program and the use of BWCs by officers can refer to the department’s BWC policy (OD19) and its Guidelines and Authorized Use – Body Worn Cameras, both available on the DPD’s website (deltapolice.ca/about/policies).

Anyone wishing to provide feedback about the DPD’s use of body-worn cameras can email the department at BWC@deltapolice.ca or visit deltapolice.ca/contact-us.



editor@northdeltareporter.com

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