Province takes next step towards equipping highway patrol with body cameras

Photo courtesy Government of Saskatchewan. Teh Saskatchewan Highway Patrol will be receiving body cameras.

The provincial government has taken the next step to equip member of its new highway patrol with body cameras

A request for proposals (RFP) for “body cameras and a digital evidence technology” for the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure was posted Friday. The RFP calls for a system to support data from officer body HD video cameras, in-vehicle video systems as well as Pont of View (POV) cameras that officers may be wearing. The government is interested in a cloud-based solution secure and stored within Canada.

“The Saskatchewan Highway Patrol is participating in the integrated response force. They received additional training and support, including the use of firearms and high risk takedowns. One of the steps is them being equipped with body cameras going forward,” a spokesperson said.

The highway patrol used to be called the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement group, and was responsible for enforcing traffic violations for commercial vehicles. While that remains the group’s primary responsibility, the officers have been armed and given additional responsibilities, including arrest and detention powers, to support their role on the Provincial Response Team (PRT).

The PRT is made up of officers from the RCMP and municipal police forces, highway patrol officers and conservation officers. Its mandate is to help reduce rural crime.

“Officers received training in making arrests, use of force and de-escalation that police would typically use. That includes carrying batons and pepper spray.”

The unit already has cameras in its officers’ vehicles.

“These body cameras will enable the monitoring of the situation away from the vehicles, and if necessary, that footage can be used as evidence in a trial, whether resulting from commercial vehicle enforcement or provincial response team activities,” the spokesperson said.

“The cameras will help enhance officer safety.”

According to the RFP, an estimated 50 officers in 14 locations could be equipped with cameras in the “initial rollout of the solution.” The project may be expanded to other officers in the future, including an estimated 100 additional field officers, but no decision has been made at this time as to whether it will be expanded to other frontline groups.

The RFP includes sections dedicated to the evidence management system and a proposed camera solution. The proposed camera solution focuses on body-mounted or POV officer cameras.

In late June, provincial minister of highways and infrastructure, David Marit, told reporters the officers would be wearing body cameras. A government spokesperson told CBC News officers were expected to be wearing the cameras by August.