Could traffic cameras help catch more criminals?
Published Thursday, January 10, 2019 6:58PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, January 10, 2019 7:10PM PST
The widow of an innocent Surrey murder victim is raising questions about why traffic cameras aren't being put to better use to help catch criminals..
Darlene Bennett's husband, Paul, was gunned down in his own driveway back in June in what homicide investigators have called a case of mistaken identity.
"This wasn't a stray bullet," Bennett said. "This was an execution."
So far, there have been no arrests in the case. Investigators have released video of a suspect vehicle, but its licence plate is not visible in those images. There are 400 traffic cameras in Surrey, but they purposely don't record licence plates.
Bennett is now lobbying the city to change that.
"That's a tool they need to solve murders and violent crime quicker," she said. "It's a basic tool in today's age of technology and they can't access it."
The city declined CTV's request for comment, but Mayor Doug McCallum told the widow in a letter that traffic cameras aren't designed to register licence plates because of privacy laws.
"The traffic cameras are not designed to collect personal information and the (Privacy Impact Assessment) prohibits the use or disclosure of information," the letter read. "Therefore, the resolution, frame rate, and default zoom position are set to be suitable for Traffic Management and road safety studies while avoiding recognition of personal identifiable information."
Bennett points out that red light and toll cameras do capture that information and questions why traffic cameras can't do the same.
But BC Civil Liberties Association urges caution when it comes to changing or challenging privacy rules.
"The more data that governments gather on people, the greater the temptation there is to use that data for other things—well beyond what might be a laudable goal of helping in an active police investigation," executive director Josh Paterson said in a statement.
Ever since her husband's death, Bennett has been vocal about policing issues in the city as it deals with ongoing gang conflict.
Last month, she said it was "extremely disheartening" to hear that Surrey's newly elected government wanted to cancel a plan to hire 12 additional Mounties in 2019.
Bennett says she'll keep pushing for a little less privacy in the name of greater public safety.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Michele Brunoro