Police want more access to Vancouver's CCTVs
Published Thursday, June 30, 2011 4:15PM PDT
Every moment of the Stanley Cup riot was captured by cameras, and not just of the smartphone variety; Vancouver police used seven closed circuit surveillance cameras to monitor the mayhem.
The City of Vancouver installed about 100 cameras for the 2010 Winter Olympics to watch high-traffic pedestrian areas, but deactivated them once the Games ended.
Now, Canadian Police Association President Tom Stamatakis says he wants to see cameras utilized "on an ongoing basis in the downtown core, the Granville entertainment district and other areas that are frequented regularly by people for events."
"If we can't have that, though, for sure I would strongly advocate for them to be used during any major event," Stamatakis said, offering examples such as the Celebration of Light, Grey Cup and Stanley Cup runs.
Police say the cameras would help them deploy resources to trouble spots more effectively, but that doesn't sit well with the BC Civil Liberties Association.
Policy director Micheal Vonn said the police argument may sound reasonable, but it doesn't necessarily work in practice.
"The places in Canada we've seen this deployment argument used is places like the G20. There we have a billion dollar security budget, which involved blanketing the downtown core with cameras, and a riot goes on for an hour and a half virtually uninterrupted by police deployment."
Using CCTVs is also pricey. The cost of implementing and monitoring 100 cameras during the Olympics cost about $2.5 million.
Vonn also argues that if the cameras start off being used for deployment purposes, they could still end up serving other purposes.
"The reason why we don't buy that is we cannot point to a policing technology that remains within the four-square of what it was originally designed for."
Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer says police have made similar requests about CCTV use before, but she has only seen evidence that they are useful during large crowd scenarios.
"I haven't seen compelling evidence as to how [CCTVs] would change things in the normal course of events," Reimer said.
She added that CCTVs don't prevent criminals from acting out, but could make it easier to catch offenders after the fact.
"Given the loss of civil liberties involved for all of us who might be on that street… that's not that compelling an argument," Reimer added.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington