RCMP officers in Saskatchewan will soon get a better picture of serious incidents they respond to.
In fact, they’ll get more than just a picture.
All RCMP vehicles in the province are in the process of being outfitted with two cameras which police are calling the In-Car Digital Video System (ICDVS) project.
“It definitely adds a layer of safety, not only for the public but for the officers themselves,” said Staff Sergeant Devin Pugh, commanding officer of the White Butte Detachment in Emerald Park.
While the ICDVS system is still being rolled out, Pugh and other officers demonstrated to media Wednesday morning how the new cameras work. Each vehicle will include two cameras: one on the dashboard facing out the front of the vehicle comparable to what the driver would see and the other camera facing the backseat towards where a potential suspect would be detained.
“It’s not a mystery that video is worth a thousand words, even more…it really depicts evidence in a very, very accurate light,” said Pugh.
Unlike tools such as body cams used by other police in different jurisdictions, these cameras don’t have to be flipped on. Pugh said they also can’t be switched off.
“It’s very nice in that aspect that we don’t actually have to worry about turning the camera on during a stressful situation; it’s an automatic recording.”
Pugh said the recording technically begins as soon as the officer starts the vehicle. However, video is captured once an officer turns on the police lights, activates the siren or once the vehicle exceeds a certain speed. Not only is footage of the incident recorded, but also footage one-minute before the incident as well.
Audio is recorded inside the police vehicle. In addition, officers are equipped with a wireless microphone they wear on their uniform.
Incidents are recorded on a memory stick in the vehicle, explained Pugh, which are then downloaded onto a server within the detachment. Officers can then access those servers to provide information to use in court.
Pugh said footage surrounding serious incidents will be kept for up to 99 years.
He added officers have to undergo a full day’s training course in order to learn how the system works and how video can be downloaded and transferred.
Besides the White Butte Detachment, locations in Southey and Saskatoon were recently piloted. Currently, 26 detachments are utilizing the cameras, however, server installation continues.
By 2019, all RCMP vehicles in Saskatchewan are expected to have the cameras and servers operational. The total cost of the program is estimated to be $4.5 million.