Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Operational Manual – chapter 25.5. - Body-worn video

On this page

  1. Definitions
  2. General
  3. Roles and responsibilities
  4. Recording and stop recording
  5. Note taking and statements
  6. Digital evidence management and court disclosure
  7. Access to media or data

Policy amended:

  1. Definitions

    1. Body-worn camera means an approved RCMP device that is worn on a designated member's uniform in an overt capacity for the main purpose of recording audio and/or video.
    2. Body-worn camera coordinator means an RCMP employee who holds the rights to manage data within the body-worn camera storage repository, and is responsible for the administration of the body-worn camera equipment and recorded media.
    3. Body-worn camera power on means the body worn camera is powered on.
    4. Body-worn video means a video recording that is captured using the body-worn camera.
    5. Call for service means an incident that is attended by police officers in response to a communication made by an alarm system, a telephone, a personal contact, or other electronic or mechanical device to a police organization, reporting the need for police involvement.
      1. This includes, but is not limited to, arrests, investigative detentions, mental health calls, interactions with persons-in-crisis, crimes-in-progress, investigations, active criminals, and public disorder issues.

      Note

      A call for service does not include routine patrols.

    6. Covert mode means the disabling of all body-worn camera audio and visual indicators.
    7. Exigent circumstances means circumstances where:
      1. there are reasonable grounds to suspect that there is an imminent threat of bodily harm or death to a person;
      2. there are reasonable grounds to believe that evidence relating to the commission of an offence is present in a private place, and that entry into the private place is necessary to prevent the imminent loss or imminent destruction of evidence; or
      3. there are conditions relating to a fresh pursuit.
    8. Incidents of a sensitive nature means incidents or situations of a sensitive nature which may include, but are not limited to, nudity, medical episodes, medical treatment, and extreme emotional distress.
    9. Member, for the purposes of this policy, means regular members, reservist members, special constables, special constable members, and community constables.
    10. Overt means to show openly or plainly, or be readily apparent, rather than being secret or hidden.
    11. Private place means any place where a person may reasonably expect to be safe from uninvited intrusion or surveillance, and have privacy. Private places include, but are not limited to, private dwellings, hospital treatment areas, and religious places.
    12. Public place means any place that the public has lawful access to by right or by invitation.

      Note

      A public place may be treated as a private place outside of operational hours.

    13. Recording means a process which causes a body-worn camera to start recording audio and/or video data.

      Note

      A body-worn camera has a pre-event video recording function with no audio, which is pre-set to 30 seconds. When the body-worn camera begins recording, the video automatically captures the 30-seconds pre-event, and attaches it to the overall recording.

    14. Redaction means the deliberate omission or concealment of information in a multimedia recording. Redaction involves removing sensitive or personal information from data, such as documents, audio files, and videos. Redaction in its application may include, but is not limited to, video recorded by body-worn cameras, 911 phone calls, digital video recorder systems, in-car video systems, jail or prison phone services, crime scene videos, crime scene photos, and video evidence collected during investigations.
    15. Stop recording means the stopping of the audio and/or video data recording.
    16. Transitory information means information resources that are of short-term or of non-business value, and are required only for a limited time to ensure the completion of a routine action or the preparation of a subsequent record.
  2. General

    1. A body-worn camera is intended to:
      1. capture an accurate record of a member's interaction with the public;
      2. enhance public and police officer safety;
      3. provide improved evidence for investigative, judicial, and oversight purposes; and
      4. strengthen the commitment to bias-free service delivery by members to the public.
    2. Body-worn cameras are used by members who are wearing approved Service Order Number 1 and Number 2.
      1. Body-worn cameras may be used by members who are identifiable as police officers and wearing an approved uniform other than Service Order Number 1 and Number 2 for their duties, for example, Public Order units.
    3. Only trained members who have successfully completed the RCMP body-worn camera training are allowed to operate a body-worn camera.
    4. For details on approved body-worn cameras, mounts, and accessories, contact bwc_policy_politique_cvc@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.
    5. A body-worn camera recording captures both audio and video data, and is referred to as body-worn video.

      Exception

      There may be occasions where the member deems it appropriate to start recording but only uses the audio feature of the body-worn camera. This is allowed at the discretion of the member, but a clear rationale must be recorded at the time, either on the body-worn camera audio and/or video, or in the member's notebook.

    6. Body-worn cameras are not used to record in private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, except during exigent circumstances, when lawfully placed, or with the consent of the owners or occupants of the private space.
    7. Body-worn cameras are not used in an area where an electronic explosive device may be present.
    8. Body-worn cameras are not used to record during administrative duties, or during conversations of a personal or non-investigative nature with other members.
    9. Body-worn videos are not subject to biometric analysis including, but not limited to, facial recognition.
    10. The use of a body-worn video for training purposes is handled and held under the supervision of the body-worn camera coordinator.
      1. The use of any footage of a body-worn video for training purposes is approved through the body-worn camera coordinator.
      2. Redaction of the identities of those in the recording may be necessary to protect their privacy.
  3. Roles and responsibilities

    1. Member
      1. Ensure the body-worn camera is placed on your uniform by using an approved mounting system, as identified by the RCMP and the body-worn camera manufacturer.
      2. Ensure the body-worn camera is placed on your uniform in an overt capacity, in plain view of the person being audio and/or video recorded.
        1. Make a reasonable effort to ensure the body-worn camera lens, recording indicator, and status indicators are not obstructed from view.
      3. Where practicable, at the beginning of your shift, ensure the body-worn camera is fully charged.

        Note

        You are expected to take reasonable steps to manage the body-worn camera's battery life to ensure sufficient power is available to operate the body-worn camera for the required duration of your shift, using approved charging accessories.

      4. Ensure the body-worn camera is powered on at the start of your shift.
      5. Verify that the body-worn camera is functioning properly at the start of and throughout your shift, according to the body-worn camera manufacturers' guidelines.
      6. When possible, avoid unnecessarily recording audio and/or video data.
        1. Ensure that each incident is captured in a single recording to avoid a continuous body-worn video recording containing multiple unrelated incidents.
        2. These situations are not to be captured with a body-worn camera:
          1. interactions that are unrelated to the performance of your duties;
          2. multiple unrelated incidents or investigations;
          3. unrelated contacts with members of the public, for example, a bystander; or
          4. when working in a community policing role and attending a community celebration, a community hall or education facility that does not require police presence or the element of public safety;
      7. At the end of each shift, or as soon as reasonably practicable, place the body-worn camera into the approved body-worn camera dock to charge, and offload any body-worn video.
      8. Do not modify or attempt to modify any permanent settings or components of the body-worn camera.
      9. Report all body-worn camera malfunctions to your immediate supervisor as soon as reasonably possible.
      10. Report a lost or damaged body-worn camera to your supervisor and/or divisional body-worn camera coordinator.
    2. Supervisor
      1. Be knowledgeable on the proper use of body-worn camera equipment.
      2. Confirm that members operating a body-worn camera have completed the prescribed training, and identify additional training needs, as appropriate.
      3. Ensure that members make every attempt to place the body-worn camera in the approved body-worn camera dock to allow the body-worn video to be offloaded from the body-worn camera in a timely fashion.
      4. Inspect members' notebooks regularly to ensure the continuing quality of note taking with the use of the body-worn camera.
      5. Conduct regular reviews of the body-worn video to ensure members are following section 3.1. of this policy.

        Note

        A body-worn video is not used as a routine performance evaluation tool.

    3. Detachment or unit commander
      1. Advise members on policy updates, as applicable.
      2. Ensure that supervisors conduct regular reviews of the body-worn video with members who are equipped with body-worn cameras.
    4. Divisional criminal operations
      1. Identify and maintain a body-worn camera or Digital Evidence Management System unit for the division to manage body-worn videos.
        1. Responsible for the administrative management of body-worn videos within the Digital Evidence Management System unit, including, but not limited to:
          1. relevant material for formal requests under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act;
          2. significant or complex redaction requirements, as they relate to body-worn videos; or
          3. unique division-specific requirements or activities involving other recorded media.
        2. Assist in any unique divisional requirements or activities involving body-worn cameras, including warranty procedures, and ongoing new user and remedial training.
      2. Ensure public notifications regarding the use of body-worn cameras are promoted through media and signage within the detachments.
      3. Before publicly releasing any body-worn video of a high public interest or scrutiny, complete a risk assessment and notify the member who recorded the body-worn video, and any other members who were captured in the footage, of the release.
      4. When a body-worn video is initially released, consider having a subject matter expert narrate or describe the situation recorded in the body-worn video at a press conference.
  4. Recording and stop recording

    1. A member will start recording on a body-worn camera while in the lawful execution of their duties:
      1. before arriving at a call for service;
      2. when there is a decision to initiate contact with a member of the public, and where that contact is for the purpose of a police investigation, regardless of whether or not the person is within camera view;
      3. to record statements that would normally be taken in the field, including utterances and spontaneous statements;
      4. to record interactions with a person in custody; and
      5. to record any other situation or incident where a member believes capturing audio and/or video evidence would support them in the lawful execution of their duties.
    2. When a body-worn camera is recording, a reasonable effort is made by the member to advise individuals that they are being audio and video recorded.
      1. When tactically feasible, members advise other first responders on scene about the body-worn camera recording.
      2. When entering a private residence or private place, on the basis of consent alone, members advise the owner or occupant of the body-worn camera recording, and provide the owner or occupant with a reasonable opportunity to refuse or consent to being recorded.
      3. When recording with the consent of the owner or occupant, if, at anytime during the attendance, the owner or occupant requests that the interaction is not recorded, the member will stop recording, or leave the private residence or private place.

        Note

        In this situation, a member's lawful presence in the private residence or private place is conditional on the owner or occupant's consent; if the owner or occupant requests that the interaction is not recorded, then their consent is conditional upon the camera being deactivated. Therefore, the camera is deactivated in order for the member's presence at the location to remain lawful.

    3. The recording light on the body-worn camera camera is visible to the public while recording.

      Exception

      There may be occasions where a member finds it appropriate to record with the body-worn camera, but uses the covert mode for officer safety reasons for the necessary duration of the recording. This is allowed at the discretion of the member, as long as a clear rationale is recorded either on the body-worn camera audio and/or video or in the member's notebook immediately, or as soon as practicable.

    4. A member who is equipped with a body-worn camera is required to be aware of the impact that recordings may have on victims, witnesses, or suspects involved in incidents of a sensitive nature, including in a public place.
      1. When public and police safety is not a concern, a member may temporarily obstruct the video to protect the privacy of another person, and record their rationale for this either on the body-worn camera audio and/or video, or in their notebook.
    5. A member does not stop recording, or deliberately re-position or cover the body-worn camera lens, so as to not effectively capture audio or visual recordings, unless they reasonably believe that the collection of audio or video data would no longer:
      1. support public or police safety;
      2. benefit the investigation; or
      3. require the use of body-worn cameras, as outlined in section 4.1.
    6. A member stops recording:
      1. when the incident has concluded, and they determine that public or police safety is no longer a concern, or the video being recorded no longer benefits the investigation;
      2. in situations where legal privilege exists, and the recording could violate such protections;
      3. when directed to do so by a supervisor, applying the criteria outlined in section 4.5.; or
      4. during strip searches or internal body cavity searches, and in areas where there is a high expectation of privacy, such as in washrooms, hospitals, or treatment centres.

        Exception

        1. Under exigent circumstances.
        2. When a member has custody of a person who is being treated, or is waiting for health care treatment, and the member is alone with that person, and reasonably believes that recording is necessary for a reason identified in section 4.5.
        3. When a member has custody of a person who is being treated, or is waiting for health care treatment, and the member reasonably believes that the interaction between themselves and the person in custody requires, or might soon require, the use of force.
        4. With the express consent of the person who is the subject of the recording.
    7. A body-worn video is uninterrupted from the beginning of an incident until the time that the member decides it is no longer necessary to continue recording.
    8. A body-worn camera is prohibited for surveillance use, or for secretly recording audio and/or video.
  5. Note taking and statements

    1. A body-worn video does not replace proper note taking or reports. Recorded media is intended to supplement a member's observations.
    2. A member is required to complete note taking and Subject Behaviour / Officer Response reports (original version), before reviewing the body-worn video.
    3. If, after reviewing the body-worn video, a member notices a detail that they had observed but not previously included in their notebook, they will add this detail to their notebook, and clearly document that they made these notes after viewing the body-worn video.
    4. A body-worn video should complement, but not replace, evidence from other sources, such as police officers, witnesses, or evidence that is normally captured by Forensic Identification Services.
    5. A body-worn video does not replace existing requirements, procedures, or policy obligations, such as recording admissions, statements, or declarations.
      1. Formal statements are not recorded on a body-worn camera.
    6. A body-worn video is available for review by any member who was involved in an investigation, as supplemental to notes.
      1. A member who is the subject of a code of conduct investigation, a public complaint, or any other legal proceeding where the events relating to that proceeding were recorded with a body-worn camera, is provided timely and fair access to their recording during that process.
        1. A member is allowed to share their recordings with a representative who is assisting them, or with their legal counsel.
    7. If a body-worn camera fails to record an incident or a portion thereof, a member will document the date, time, and reason for the non-recorded investigational information in their notebook.
    8. When privileged information is known to have been captured by a body-worn camera, a member documents the date and time of the recording in their notebook (without documenting the information itself), and reports it to their supervisor.
    9. If a member has recorded an individual who self identifies or is identified as a confidential informant or as someone who has been promised confidentiality, the member is required to immediately notify the divisional body-worn camera coordinator and supervisor before offloading the body-worn video.

      Note

      1. The identity of a confidential informant is considered Protected "C", and information on this cannot be stored in the same way as other body-worn videos.
      2. Divisional Human Source Unit provides instructions on how to process any inadvertently recorded video of this nature.
  6. Digital evidence management and court disclosure

    1. A body-worn video is appropriately tagged or classified at the time of recording for information management purposes.
    2. If a body-worn video recording captures an incident that resulted in a court charge and could be used as evidence in court proceedings, appropriate procedures for disclosure are followed.
      1. If audio and/or video evidence related to a charge exists, the relevant portion of the original recorded data is disclosed to the Crown prosecutor.
      2. A body-worn video recording is not exported, downloaded, screen recorded, or otherwise shared for any purpose that is not related to an investigation or operational requirements.
    3. A body-worn video disclosure is prepared in a format that is acceptable to the Crown and to the divisional unit.
  7. Access to media or data

    1. A body-worn video is retained in the approved Digital Evidence Management System.
    2. A body-worn video that is not associated to an occurrence number or operational file is managed by the lead investigator, or body-worn camera operator or their supervisor, and is placed in date order and grouped by calendar year in the Digital Evidence Management System following the process outlined in section 4.6.6., Recorded Media Containing Operational Information, of the Information Management Manual - chapter 2.3.

      Exception

      Transitory information.

    3. Requests for access to a body-worn video from an RCMP employee in the execution of their duties follows the process outlined in appendix 25-5-1, Internal Access to Body-Worn Video Recordings.
    4. Requests for access to a body-worn video from external Canadian law enforcement agencies will occur following any memorandum of understanding that exists with the requesting agency.
    5. Requests for access to a body-worn video from foreign law enforcement agencies will be conducted as with existing policy.
    6. Requests for access to a body-worn video under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act can be submitted to the Access to Information and Privacy Branch web page.
      1. Requests for a body-worn video are processed in accordance with the corresponding legislation of the request.
      2. The member who recorded the body-worn video which is being requested is provided with an automated notification of the release through the Digital Evidence Management System.