Delta Police Patrol Services Section to Use Body Worn Cameras
In May 2021, the Delta Police Department (DPD) became the first department in BC to deploy Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) operationally, starting with the Interdiction Team and later expanding to the Traffic Section.
At its December 14, 2022, meeting, the Delta Police Board approved a pilot for the DPD's frontline Patrol Services Section (Patrol) to deploy BWCs.
The pilot is expected to begin in February 2023 for six months. Our community members may see DPD Patrol officers wearing BWCs while responding to calls during this period. The cost for the Patrol pilot project, primarily related to the purchase of four additional BWCs and equipment (chargers), will be approximately $6,400.
BWCs will be used following existing policy and provincial standards, with oversight from the Delta Police Management Team. It is important to note that under DPD BWC Policy OD19, members record their interactions with the public in an overt capacity as part of their law enforcement duties. The policy thoroughly outlines the circumstances under which DPD officers may use the BWCs; indiscriminate and continuous recording is not permitted.
The benefits and expected outcomes for the deployment of BWCs are:
- Enhance transparency, public trust, and confidence in policing (citizen satisfaction)
- Enhance officer safety by discouraging use of force against police
- De-escalate high-conflict situations to avoid use of force by police
- Provide real-life training examples and insight into policing/public encounters to assist with training initiatives
- Assist in complaint resolution about alleged officer misconduct
- Enhance evidence documentation
In approving the pilot, the Board reviewed the findings of a five-step process utilized to evaluate the potential of expansion; the evaluation offered positive results in support of the BWC program. The report to the Police Board can be accessed here: https://issuu.com/deltapolice/docs/bwc_expansion_report_pb for further details.
DPD's community-first policing approach guided the evaluation process; at the forefront of this process was a community consultation conducted earlier this year. Feedback from our community and partners is essential in planning and delivering community-first policing services and innovative projects. Consequently, the DPD sought public input regarding expanding the BWC pilot program to additional sections of the Department.
Delta Police Board Chair. Mayor George Harvie stated, "We have heard loud and clear that our community strongly supports and expects DPD officers to wear BWCs. The community's feedback was key in the Board's decision to approve the Patrol pilot, making it the first time in BC that a frontline Patrol/General Duty Section will deploy BWCs. Our decision focuses on fostering community trust in police while allowing officers to do their job safely."
Mayor Harvie continued, "The decision further supports the DPD's Community Safety and Well-Being Plan (CSWP), which is the product of diverse input, including the community, DPD team, City of Delta Council and various stakeholders/partners. We remain committed to the CSWP priority/goal to leverage technology to enhance and develop efficiencies for continuous improvement."
The community consultation found that 93.3% of the community supports expanding the BWC program to the frontline, while 6.7% opposes the expansion. Moreover, consultation with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Laura Cassidy and Executive Council noted their support for the DPD BWC program expansion.
Chief Neil Dubord stated, "Police legitimacy and public trust are emerging themes in the current policing landscape and must be at the forefront of a modern and progressive community policing approach, to which the DPD remains committed to. The continued expansion of the BWC program is the fruition of that commitment, in alignment with our community's expectations to whom we are ultimately responsible and provide services to. I am fortunate to have a front-row seat in witnessing our team's commitment, and dedication for our community's safety and well-being and this pilot will support the work of our team."
BWC footage will be stored in a centralized Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS), which is mandatory for all municipal police departments. This mandatory participation significantly reduces the costs associated with the storage of data that is commonly a detriment to BWC programs.
The DPD has also established a strict policy around accessibility and release of BWC footage. The footage is only accessible to the investigating officer, their supervisor and others with an investigative or documented need to see the footage.
There may be additional costs related to processing requests that may come from the public, court-related disclosures, and other agencies, which can currently be managed with existing staffing/resources. However, should there be a need to hire for a related position, the expected annual cost will be $84,738; the DPD will make every effort to find internal efficiencies for this position.