Subject Behaviour / Officer Response Database (SBOR) - Addendum

Executive summary

The RCMP recognized the need for capturing the details surrounding use of force by police and developed a reporting framework that provides increased liability protection for police officers and law enforcement agencies. It is a standardized method of articulating the use of intervention options and describes not only the subject's behaviour but the totality of the circumstances. Furthermore, it provides a means of auditing and analyzing the SB/OR data for policy development, statistical trend analysis and training purposes. A stronger accountability to the public will be realized when incidents of use of force are employed and the circumstances surrounding them are documented.

This report is an addendum to the January 14th, 2009 Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for the Subject Behaviour / Officer Response (SB/OR) which was provided to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The SB/OR database was upgraded on November 9th, 2011 with additional non-personal features that required amendment, further explanation/detail and the addition of a review and reports features. The addendum will discuss the retention of critical information (see section 3 – Personal Information Data Elements Table for data elements and values) on the SB/OR database along with providing the purposes of retaining this information, upgrades made to the database and address any potential privacy risks.

The SB/OR database collects limited personal information (date of birth, age, gender, height, and weight) of the subject(s) involved in a use of force incident with police. This limited personal information cannot be associated to an individual as the names of individual(s) involved in use of force incidents are not to be contained within the database. This information is, in essence, a copy of the case information contained within the operational police records management system (RMS), which will only be released at the discretion of the RCMP in strict accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act. No data matching activity will be undertaken. The addendum shows that there is a minimal risk of a privacy breach through the RMS, as the security and retention policies and protocols are strictly adhered.

The limited personal identifiable information is necessary to determine use of force effectiveness and safety impacted by these variables. The subject's date of birth will only be retained for two years, as the age is populated when the exact date of birth is known. The subject's age, gender, height, and weight information will be kept indefinitely for research and statistical purpose.Footnote 1 Examples of past research, related to the deployment of the CEW, included minors, female vs. male subjects and the physical stature of the individual.

The RCMP, as part of its law enforcement role, is accountable when a member uses force in the course of his/her duties. An SB/OR report must be completed to capture the nature of the incident, the response by the officer(s) involved, and the police officers' names, contact information and their employee's HRMIS (Human Resources Management Information System) identification number. The member that applied the use of force, the member that actually submits the SB/OR report (different member in some incidents) and the supervising member are all recorded on the SB/OR report for documentation and verification purposes. Members' names and contact information will only be retained on the SB/OR database for two years; however, as stated in sec. 3 of the Privacy Act an employee's identification number is not considered personal information.

One reason for retaining the members' HRMIS identification numbers on the SB/OR database is to track incidents of CEW deployment. The Commission for Public Complaints (CPC) Special Report "RCMP Use of the Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW), Jan 1, 2009 to Dec 31, 2009" reported that a number of members had multiple deployments and were coined "Multiple Report Members" by the CPC. The RCMP conducted a review of each report and demonstrated that the alleged "Multiple Report Members" were justified in each instance where the CEW was used. At the time, the CEW had its own database and the analysis of members' deployment of CEW was conducted going back over seven years. Deleting the member's information would not have allowed this type of analysis to be conducted and the RCMP would not be able to show accountability in its use of force. As well, the RCMP would not have been able to provide a practical and timely response to the CPC's claim if member's information had been deleted from the database.

Another reason to retain the members' HRMIS identification numbers on the SB/OR database is to complete trends analysis: by analyzing the number of different responses in relation to a subject's behavior by member(s), district or division. Trends analysis on prior use and use after a policy change can look at usage and years of service. Using the members' HRMIS identification numbers to track use of force options used over a number of years in different detachment areas or divisions can provide useful statistical analysis for policy development and training. If the members' HRMIS identification numbers are removed then the ability to provide credible data is lost. For example, the RCMP would not be able to show the number of times force (e.g., the CEW only accounts for four percent of the SB/OR reports) was used by a member/district/division in relation to a perceived behavior. Access is provided only to RCMP officers who are required to report, investigate or audit use of force incidents. The HRMIS number also can be related to the transactions of opening and locking of the SB/OR report for security and protection of the report information. The transactional logs are limited to a ten year storage and retention period on the central server where the SB/OR database is housed.

Since every situation a member encounters is unique it needs to be weighed on its own situational factors. Historical data will provide much needed insight into the risk management and assessment, according to the principles of the Incident Management Intervention Model (IM/IM). Therefore, its infancy will continue to build its historical data that will be analyzed and used to research use of force for trends analysis in the future. The retention of member's HRMIS information on the SB/OR database will provide data quality accuracy and credibility for future research which will be a direct benefit to the public, police and all invested partners.

The SB/OR PIA Addendum examines the privacy risks associated to the SB/OR database and advises of the measures taken to avoid or mitigate any privacy risks in the design and/or operation of, or access to, the SB/OR database. The SB/OR database is a direct benefit to Canadians as circumstances surrounding the use of force by police are documented and open to examination when required. This will result in increased transparency and accountability by police to the public.

The RCMP uses a software program called Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to statistically analyze the data in the SB/OR reports. The data is retained in aggregate format only for future research. Dissemination of aggregate data only will be provided to legitimate research and statistical studies of use of force by police. The data could be released at the record level at the discretion of the RCMP, in compliance with the provisions of the Privacy Act.

The general public will be provided with a complete and accurate description of the SB/OR reporting database and the use of the SB/OR data through the RCMP corporate web site PIA Executive Summary. The summary will be updated to reflect changes made to the SB/OR database that are covered in the Addendum. Furthermore, Section 11 of the Privacy Act requires government institutions to describe their personal information holdings as personal information banks of classes of personal information in the relevant section(s) of Info Source. The RCMP PIB CMP PPU 005 will be updated this current year 2013/14 to include a reference to the SB/OR database and the removal of the Conducted Energy Weapon Database, which was deactivated upon implementation of the SB/OR database on January 1st, 2010.

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