OLDS — Some councillors are concerned about the bill the Town of Olds may receive for body cameras to be worn by RCMP officers in the community.
One councillor fears that cost could be more than $30,000.
During council’s policies and priorities meeting on Sept. 7, Staff Sgt. Warren Wright, the commanding officer of the Olds RCMP detachment, said body cameras, worn about chest high, will be distributed to RCMP starting this fall, and the process is expected to be complete in about 18 months.
He said the federal government will foot the bill for the cameras up front, but that costs for them will later be downloaded to municipalities.
Councillors expressed interest in asking why they’ll have to pick up that bill. It was suggested they may ask that question during this fall’s Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) convention, currently scheduled to be held Nov. 17-19 in Edmonton.
“According to the documentation, initial startup will be paid for by the federal government. But eventually, eventually, it will be downloaded to the municipalities,” Wright said.
Coun. Heather Ryan asked why that will happen.
Noting there are 15 officers in the Olds RCMP detachment, she estimated the total cost could be “upwards of $30,000 extra in the (town) budget.”
“I’m just wondering how they separate this out from their equipment that they provide out of benefit to the RCMP,” she said.
Wright said he didn’t know the answer to that question because those in the chain of command above him haven’t shared that information. But he promised to look into it if asked to do so.
“I don’t understand why we would need that per year when you can just buy one camera and it’s going to last longer than a year,” Ryan said.
Wright said the initial cost of the cameras might be in the $2,000 to $3,000 range but he doubted their annual maintenance costs will be that high.
"Don’t get me wrong. I think that they're a valuable tool for the police and certainly I support them, but I’m not sure I support us having to pay for them; I’m pretty sure I don’t,” Ryan said.
“But anyway, thank you very much and perhaps we can follow up on that in the future; find out more information from the federal government.”
Coun. Mary Anne Overwater said body cameras are a “necessity.”
“I think at the end of the day we’ve heard from our administration and from our municipal enforcement that if you don’t have a body cam, a lot of times it gets thrown out of court and you’ve spent all this time getting that person to court and then (it gets) thrown out because you don’t have a body cam,” she said.
“I understand the cost, but I think that’s something that is inevitable, that needs to be put in the budget somewhere along the line, whether it’s partially ours or partially someone else’s, but I agree with that.”