Body-Worn Camera Project

On Thursday, September 16, 2021, DRPS began a phased deployment of Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs).

BWCs were deployed to front-line officers in the Traffic Services Branch, and the West and North Division community police offices that support Pickering, Ajax and north Durham. Future phases will see deployment continue across the region, including Whitby, Oshawa and Clarington.

The rollout follows a year-long pilot project to determine the value of BWCs to the DRPS, our partners and the community regarding evidence collection, trust, transparency, accountability and service effectiveness. Following that project, which included community engagement, the BWC program was endorsed by the Police Services Board and received funding approval from Durham Regional Council. A comprehensive training program was then implemented to prepare for this deployment.

This is an example of body-worn camera footage in action. Our Festive R.I.D.E. team was outfitted with cameras and used throughout their campaign.

Frequently Asked Questions

Body-worn cameras provide an unbiased, independent account of police/community interactions. The Durham Regional Police Services Board and Durham Regional Police Service are committed to delivering accountable and transparent policing services. Body Worn Camera footage provides valuable insight that can legitimize officer-public interactions, provide evidence in court, or offer an unbiased alternative to allegations of misconduct. Every frontline Durham Regional police officer will be equipped with a body-worn camera enhancing service delivery.

Surreptitious or covert recording of an individual by the police, without authorization from the courts, is considered unreasonable search and seizure and a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms set out in Supreme Court of Canada decision, R v Duarte. Thus, the deployment of body-worn cameras is best suited to frontline policing objectives.

Implementation is targeted to begin in September 2021 and is projected to be complete by October 2022 with more than 500 Body Worn Cameras issued to trained officers across the Community Police Offices in Durham Region.

A police officer will turn on the body-worn camera prior to arriving at a call for service or when they start investigating an individual or when they are asking a person questions for the purpose of collecting their information. A police officer will turn off the body-worn camera when the call for service or investigation is complete or when the officer determines that continuous recording is no longer serving its intended purpose.

The body-worn camera is mandated to be in plain view of a person on an officer’s uniform, will have visual indicators (lights and notices) indicating its purpose and that it’s actively recording. Officers are trained to provide verbal notification that a body-worn camera is in operation as soon as reasonably possible during an interaction with a member of the public. The timing of this notice may vary depending on the context of the encounter.

As a general rule, the camera will be active and recording during all frontline police-public interactions. The only time an officer may choose to turn off a body-worn camera is after the officer has been given permission to enter a private home and the person granting permission has made the request. The request to cease recording can happen before the officer enters the private home or at any time during the officer’s presence in the private home.

The officers will undergo a training regime including online modules, in person lectures and a battery of situational simulations which will cover both the theory behind body-worn cameras and technical training on proper camera operation.

Yes, DRPS has developed policies and procedures through consultation with stakeholders and guidelines established by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. These policies and procedures provide officers with operational direction with respect to recording in private and public places; retention and security of videos; and the responsibilities of supervisors and Unit Commanders.

Complaints of misconduct can be made to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director or to the DRP Proffessional Standards Branch. Once investigated, officers may face any number of disciplinary actions, up to and including dismissal.
We know that only proper use of body-worn cameras will enhance public trust and legitimacy while improper use will have the opposite, detrimental effect on police/community relations. Non-compliance identified by either complaint or random audit will be forwarded to the Durham Regional Police Professional Standards Branch for investigation and disciplinary sanction.

The Durham Region Police Service is committed to transparency, and, as recommended by guidelines provided by the Information and Privacy Commission, a decision to make BWC policy available to the public will assist in providing the necessary clarity around our BWC Program. We want to foster public trust around the use of BWCs because we believe these cameras are valuable tools that support and reinforce our commitment to delivering accountable and transparent policing services to our community.

Our Service began evaluating BWC technology in 2015 progressing through a comprehensive evaluation for BWCs and Digital Evidence Management systems. DRP solicited an independent partnership with Lakehead University and conducted an in depth study, including an operational pilot project. This culminated in an intensive procurement process, and resulted DRP securing a contract to implement the Axon Body 3 camera.

The body-worn camera data will be stored for a minimum of two years unless there is a reason to retain it longer, such as for court purposes or an ongoing investigation. If kept for this purpose, the retention period is governed by DRPS by-laws and other legal requirements.

As part of DRP’s BWC agreement, the body-worn camera data is encrypted and securely stored in a Canadian-based cloud system. Thus, the BWC data stored in this secure, cloud-base system remains inside Canadian borders.

The BWC system is designed to automatically upload all data on a camera to the cloud-based digital evidence management system every time a DRP officer docks the BWC in their porting station in their unit/division usually at the end of shift. The camera automatically uploads all data on the BWC and is the only way the data can transferred from the BWC, which eliminates potential avenues for the files to be altered.

Recorded data cannot be altered or deleted at any time. It can be viewed in real-time by the recording officer on their Connected Officer device. It can also be viewed by the officer and their supervisor once it has been uploaded to the cloud.

No-one is permitted to alter the original data file and any access to the original file is securely logged for auditing purposes. However, in order to be compliant with various pieces of privacy legislation, it is necessary to create a secondary, vetted version such as for release under a Freedom of Information request. Specially trained BWC Program staff will create this vetted, secondary file ensuring only the appropriate information is released under the proper circumstances to the proper entity or person. The original, unedited version will always be protected and available.

All body-worn camera data will be considered as part of the standard process for disclosure and part of the full, frank and fair disclosure package the Crown Attorney furnishes to the accused or defendant as mandated by R v Stinchcombe. Any vetting or editing will follow proper privacy and disclosure guidelines already in place for court disclosure materials that are copied and created. However, the original data file will remain unaltered and any access to that file logged for audit.

An officer will make their notes in compliance with standard operating procedures. DRP officers will be able to review the video during their shift for the purpose of ensuring consistency between these two types of record of officer observations. If, after reviewing the video, an addition to the duty notes or reports is needed, an addendum can be done that includes a reference to the review of body-worn camera footage.

The battery in the Axon Body 3 camera is designed to last an entire 12-hour shift.

The Axon Body 3 does have transcription capabilities designed to assist in various aspects of an investigative or court process. However, the technology does not automatically identify individuals using facial recognition, or compare images to any database.

he Axon Body 3 Camera has similar health impacts as carrying any cellular device. There are no studies documenting a direct link between wearing a body-worn camera and negative health impacts.

Police officers will be trained to be cognizant of and how to manage situations that may be sensitive in nature, such as when children are present, during a sexual assault or domestic violence investigation, or when a person is in a state of undress. Recording in private locations is only permitted in exigent circumstances, and will typically not be done in hospitals, places of worship, schools, etc.
Appropriate vetting and editing of body-worn camera data will be done for disclosure purposes, as required.

There are multiple levels of protection that have been incorporated into the BWC Program to ensure privacy rights are respected. Firstly, the BWC recordings are encrypted as they are created and captured. BWC recordings cannot be edited, altered, or deleted by the user through any function on the camera. The BWC is designed to use a secure and encrypted upload process from the camera to cloud storage. There are security authentication steps in place to ensure only those with authorized access can view recordings once they are uploaded. An automatic purging of videos is based on retention schedules in line with DRP’s by-laws. Specialized training will be given to BWC program staff in the area of redaction of recordings required for disclosure purposes

As with any record held by DRP, a person can file a to DRP’s Information Release department under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) to request to view a BWC recording. BWC data will only be deleted in accordance with the applicable DRP retention by-laws.

Every reasonable effort to capture only the relevant incident will be made while the body worn camera is in operation. Any information inadvertently captured during an interaction will be protected. BWC Program personnel will be trained used to blur out parts of the video for information that could compromise the privacy of members and the public.

DRP is always looking for ways to learn. Some materials captured by the body worn cameras could be used to improve performance and to provide necessary training, but all DRP training materials are of confidential nature. Any video that is used in this way will be vetted to ensure the privacy of all individuals.

In addition to the MFIPPA facilitating a person’s access to records, it also imposes a duty to safeguard any record that is created. Thus, general release of videos to the public is prohibited.
The only DRP member who is authorized to release any DRP BWC data to an outside source is the Chief of Police. In Canada, significant privacy implications govern the release video from the body-worn cameras to the public. The only time a BWC video may be released to the public protect is where a compelling public interest exists and where the Province’s Special Investigations Unit is not or is no longer involved. The BWC data may be vetted for release in the same way security videos are released. In every case, the privacy of victims and uninvolved members of the public will always be considered.

The DRPS invites anyone with any concerns or questions to contact the BWC office at BWC@drps.ca.

Durham Regional Police Service
605 Rossland Rd. E.,
Box 911, Whitby, ON
L1N 0B8
Phone: 905-579-1520
Toll Free: 1-888-579-1520
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