Edmonton police to disable dashcams as bodycams roll out this summer

Body-worn cameras, like the one shown, are small and visible on officers' uniforms. (Monty Kruger/CBC - image credit)

The Edmonton Police Service will disable dash cameras in police vehicles as its rolls out the body-worn cameras mandated by the provincial government.

"We don't have the resources to do both in relation to that, plus the human resources … to do both," Chief Dale McFee said Thursday.

"We're just going to focus right now on getting the bodycams rolled out. And then once we get that completed, we can revisit the the dashcams."

McFee, who was asked about the issue during a sit-down with reporters, said EPS expects to have 286 body cameras activated by July.

Mike Ellis, Alberta's public safety and emergency services minister, announced in March 2023 that body-worn cameras would be mandatory for police officers.

Ellis said the cameras increase public trust as they record interactions between officers and members of the public.

Arthur Green, press secretary for Ellis, said in a written statement Friday that the province is working on a cost framework.

Work is also underway on a provincial rollout, which includes obtaining equipment and developing policing standards for the use of the devices.

"To make sure we get this right, we are taking time to work with partners and exploring pilot programs and participating police services that will pave the way for body-worn cameras to be implemented effectively province wide," Green said in the statement.

Full implementation of the program is expected in the 2025-26 fiscal year, he said.

McFee's decision to stop using dashcams puzzles Temitope Oriola, a professor of criminology at the University of Alberta.

Police should use both dashcams and bodycams for the sake of transparency and credibility, Oriola said.

He said EPS is one of the best-resourced police services, so he wonders why McFee would say cost is an issue.

"This suggestion that somehow to introduce bodycams, we have to let go of dashcams, I think stretches the boundaries of credulity," Oriola said. "We can do both and should do both."

Body-worn cameras need to be activated by the officer wearing them. Oriola said dashcams can help provide extra video if the officer forgets or if they aren't mandated to do so by law.

"It's absolutely important, especially for the safety of officers and as corroborating evidence."