Would you like your privacy invasion super-sized? Not only is the Victoria Police Department implementing a policy of unlawful mandatory searches for alcohol during Canada Day celebrations, they have announced they will be invading your privacy with warrantless recordings as well. The Victoria Police have announced the launch of a “pilot project” of police using “body-worn” video cameras attached to sunglasses and bicycle helmets. The devices, which are for both video and audio recording, are being touted by the police as not only surveillance of citizens, but as a tool for police accountability.
Rob Holmes, BCCLA President said, “’Surprise! You’re on candid camera!’ is not a lawful policing practice. That’s why the law requires a warrant from a judge before intercepting private communications. This Victoria Police plan for Canada Day may be just as unlawful as the dragnet alcohol searches. Little information has been made available to assess this proposed experiment. The idea that it is being done as a police accountability tool sounds ridiculous. Officers control when the devices are off and when they are on. No one is naive enough to imagine that police officers will voluntarily record themselves committing an improper act.”
The Victoria Police have not disclosed which two device manufacturers have “loaned” the devices for this pilot project. TASER International manufactures these devices and their model allows officers to flick them off for “off-the-record” conversations. Const. Brendon LeBlanc has been quoted saying that the plan is for officers to inform people they are being recorded, but he asserts at the same time that they are not required to do so. The recordings are set to transmit to a desktop system at the police station.
Rob Holmes: “Police are not free to use surveillance technology at whim. Important questions about our civil rights and protection are involved. Let’s not get side-tracked with a diversion over police accountability. If this were really about monitoring the police, the recordings would go to some neutral third party, like the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner, for review, not to a police station. It’s no coincidence that the video recordings of police misconduct have come from citizens and not the police. If accountability is really the issue, this isn’t the right model. The spin the Victoria Police Department is trying here shows a low estimation of what Canadians think of their constitutional rights.”
Robert Holmes, President, 604-681-1310
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, 604-687-6001, [email protected]