Blue Line

News
N.L. privacy commissioner reviewing Happy Valley Goose Bay body camera policy


October 13, 2020
By The Canadian Press

The body camera policy passed by the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay in June is being reviewed by the province’s privacy commissioner.

Michael Harvey said that after learning in a SaltWire Network story the town had proceeded with body cameras for municipal enforcement officers, his office contacted the town.

The town sent him the policy, he said, which his office is reviewing to ensure it is compliant with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA).

The town had announced in February it would outfit the town’s municipal enforcement officers with body cameras, but put off implementing them a few weeks later following concerns about privacy.

Advertisment

Harvey said his office sent the town a letter at that time expressing a range of things that would need to be done to make sure they were in compliance with ATIPPA.

“We didn’t receive a response and we followed up again with them in June and they didn’t get back to us, so we were a bit surprised to see they had gone ahead with implementing it,” he said.

While a municipality isn’t required to contact his office before proceeding with a policy such as this, Harvey said he recommends they do to ensure they are in compliance.

It is possible for body cameras to work within the guidelines, he said, but it’s important the town carefully examine all other alternatives to a body camera and has measures in place to ensure appropriate levels of safeguarding privacy, and that using body cameras is justified.

Harvey stressed they were at the preliminary stage of the review, but on first look there are details his office needs more information on. He said they expect further conversations with the town on whether the policy is complaint with the act, and they’ll go from there.

Deputy Mayor Bert Pomeroy spoke with SaltWire a few weeks ago about the policy and said it had been legally vetted and the town is comfortable with how it is worded.

By Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram

The Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2020