Nunavut RCMP body cams to roll out in Iqaluit over 9 months

Nunavut RCMP says its body camera pilot project will be a three-phase roll-out over nine months in Iqaluit. 

The first phase of what the Mounties are now calling a “limited” project will see two of the six officers per shift in Iqaluit wearing body cams by the end of November, Insp. Adam MacIntosh said at a news conference at Nunavut RCMP headquarters in Iqaluit. 

The second phase will be implemented by Jan. 11, 2021, with four on-duty officers equipped with the cameras. 

By the third phase, set to start by Feb. 15, 2021, all six officers on a shift are to be wearing the cameras.

The project will last nine months, at which time MacIntosh said RCMP headquarters would assess the data and local feedback collected. 

No officer who actually records video will have the ability to manipulate their own video or delete it– Insp. Adam MacIntosh, Nunavut RCMP

MacIntosh also addressed some concerns raised by media at the event, for example around an officer’s ability to turn the video on and off. 

MacIntosh said officers would be trained on privacy considerations to determine when it is appropriate to turn the cameras off. 

In situations with victims of crime, for example, where officers have no reason to believe use of force might be needed, it would be inappropriate to leave the cameras on, MacIntosh said. 

“There’s appropriate times to turn it off to respect privacy and then there’s appropriate times the officer should have it on to record the event so it can be used either in an investigation or other purposes,” he said. 

MacIntosh also addressed concerns around manipulating the captured video. 

“No officer who actually records video will have the ability to manipulate their own video or delete it. That will all be done through processes using our coordinator,” he said. 

RCMP to develop new policies

Currently, MacIntosh said the RCMP do not have any policies specific to the retention of footage caught by body cams. 

Instead, existing policies around the retention and destruction of any RCMP material would be in effect. 

That means video footage will be kept anywhere from one month to two years depending on what it is used for. 

MacIntosh said the three possible uses of body cam footage are for criminal investigations, for complaints against officers and for access to information requests. 

But a well-known limitation of access to information requests for RCMP video footage is that the video might have already been deleted before it was requested. 

The office of the federal minister of public safety, which oversees the RCMP, said it the pilot project would expand to other Nunavut communities.

“The first phase of the deployment of body worn cameras for RCMP officers is taking place in Iqaluit. A further expansion of this deployment will follow,” Mary-Liz Power, press secretary to Minister Bill Blair, said in an email. 

But MacIntosh says the first three phases will only be in Iqaluit and any expansion following that would come after an analysis of the first nine months. 

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