Skip to main content

'Demand for transparency': Alberta to make body-worn cameras mandatory for all officers


In an effort to strengthen transparency, accountability and trust in police, Alberta's UCP government promised Tuesday to mandate body-worn cameras for all law-enforcement officers.

It's not yet clear how much it will cost or when it will happen, but the province's public safety and emergency services minister said the government has a working group looking into the details.

"The demand for transparency has never been more clear," Mike Ellis told reporters at an announcement.

"The desire for policing services to be committed to ensuring that they are worthy of the trust that we put in them to protect the public is high."

The cameras will be attached to officers chests or heads and will have microphones and internal data storage.

Alberta would be the first province to mandate cameras for all officers.

Calgary started using body-worn cameras on all patrol and traffic section officers, as well as some frontline officers, in April 2019. Ellis said he believes some RCMP officers are also wearing cameras.

"Mandating the use of body-worn cameras will help strengthen public safety by documenting the behaviour of the police in public, collecting better evidence and improving our approach to resolving complex complaints," he told reporters.

"Quicker and easier court cases" is also a benefit, Ellis said.

Dean LaGrange, chief of the Camrose Police Service, said in-car video is already being used there. He applauded the announcement as a "step further."

Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee said his officers are also happy to wear cameras.

"Increasing transparency and legitimacy in cameras is something that we've supported and we'll always support. Our association and our members welcome that," McFee said.

"If you don't have this transparency, what happens is you get snapshots of video, whether it's off a cell phone, whether it's off different cameras that only portray a picture of it."

The province will also work with the privacy commissioner during the process.

A three-year study completed in 2014 in Edmonton pegged the cost of cameras at $1,000 each as well as "very significant cost" for data management. McFee said technology has improved vastly since the study was done.


The sister of 23-year-old Steven Nguyen wishes first-person video existed the day he was fatally shot by an EPS officer in 2021.

Melisa Salano told CTV News Edmonton after the announcement she thinks a body camera might have changed the outcome that day or given the family a better picture of what happened.

“We still have no answers. We still have not heard from the Edmonton Police Service. We have no closure," she wrote in a statement.

"I feel like we would at least know what happened during the altercation. We would know Steven’s side of things. He’s not here to say. At least with a bodycam we would have his side.”

After the shooting, it was revealed that Nguyen had a cell phone in his hand and not a weapon. The family has since launched a lawsuit.


Ellis would not give a clear timeline for the initiative but said he plans to get a draft from the working group in the "next three or four months," which would be after a May election.

The Alberta NDP supports mandating cameras but criticized the government for making the announcement with few details.

“Once again, this is a desperate attempt by Danielle Smith and the UCP to look like they’re taking action on the eve of an election without any real plan," justice critic Irfan Sabir said in a statement.

“Meanwhile, there is a massive backlog of cases at ASIRT. If the UCP was serious about transparency they would be focused on clearing this backlog so law enforcement is held accountable and Albertans have access to justice."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk Top Stories

Stay Connected