Police Body Cams—Do We Have Privacy Rights?
There has been an ongoing debate in recent years about whether or not Calgary police officers should wear body cameras while they are on the beat. A police body camera is a small camera that an officer typically wears on his or her chest or head. The camera has a microphone attached to it that captures internal data and sound, storing the recorded footage for a later viewing if necessary.
Although on the one hand, these cameras create accountability and have a tendency to reduce violence used against police officers, they can also overburden police officers with equipment and arguably violate people’s privacy rights. Questions surrounding police officer body cameras remain unresolved. If you face charges of a crime in Calgary, you need an experienced criminal defence lawyer who can safeguard your rights and stand up for them at all times. The lawyers at Bourdon Defence can file the necessary motions and paperwork with the court to try and suppress certain evidence, increasing your likelihood of obtaining a good result in your case.
Police body cameras arguably invade citizens’ privacy. They also have the potential to expose witnesses to crimes, as well as crime victims, and can damage the relationships between the police and the general public. More specifically, body cameras worn by police officers can potentially do all of the following:
- Expose a person’s private medical condition
- Expose victims of domestic abuse, rape, or other sensitive crimes
- Expose witnesses—especially individuals who may fear that the perpetrator(s) will retaliate against them
- Expose informants
In addition to potentially violating privacy rights, there are also significant concerns that body cameras worn by police officers are expensive and unreliable. There are also significant incidental costs associated with police body cameras, including extra training for officers, data storage facilities, and additional staff to manage and maintain the video data that cameras record.
Although police officers can wear body cameras, the two biggest privacy concerns that arise include the following:
- Consent - especially the question of whether the party or parties being recorded must first consent to the recording
- Search and seizure - especially where police officer body camera recordings take place on someone’s private property—and without the existence of a search warrant or probable cause
Although authorities have not totally resolved these issues, only time will tell how the courts will address these privacy concerns.
Call a Criminal Defence Lawyer in Calgary Today
If police officers used a body camera to investigate a crime that you were involved in, the legal team at Bourdon Defence can review the circumstances of your case and determine if you may raise a privacy challenge. Our lawyers keep abreast of ongoing legal trends and newly decided case law regarding privacy and are fully equipped to raise the best possible defences on your behalf in court. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a knowledgeable Calgary criminal defence lawyer, please call us today at (403) 474-4143, or contact us online.