Edmonton Police monitor the force with video surveillanceWritten by Rosie Lombardi Wednesday, 12 August 2009 06:03
Privacy advocates may rail against the steady encroachment of video surveillance in public places by law enforcement - but the all-seeing camera eye is also focusing on police departments themselves.
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Edmonton eyes the problem
As in many jurisdictions, Alberta's provincial policing standards requires video surveillance of all arrest processing areas and holding cells at police stations, and retention of these videos for at least 30 days.
Police departments need to produce the videos as evidence to demonstrate the appropriate use of force was made by officers, and to support criminal charges, says Rick Tuson, technical security advisor for the Edmonton Police Service (EPS).
The number of requests made for evidentiary video in Edmonton is substantial, he says. "There were over 100 requests for video in 2008, and we're seeing a marked increase in these numbers for 2009. We expect them to continue to rise as our police service uses the tools now at its disposal more and more."
But installation of video equipment in police stations has grown organically over the years in most municipalities. Until it implemented a Panasonic system last year to unify its sites, the EPS had a hodge-podge of standalone equipment from various vendors scattered throughout the city. "Most of the previous infrastructure was dated, and required on-site service and support," says Tuson.
Under the old regime, responding to requests for videos was a labour-intensive process. Technical team members assigned to collect a video on behalf of investigators faced technology challenges in addition to chain-of-custody requirements, he says.
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