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Stop Picking On Vancouver Police Use Of CCTV Cameras

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In all my years in the surveillance industry around the world, I have yet to hear of a single surveillance camera causing a conviction of an innocent person. Yet once again, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is picking on the Vancouver Police Department and making noise about their suspected use of city-owned surveillance cameras, all 14 of them.

Micheal Vonn from the group wants the police to sign into a log book every time they use their own CCTV cameras. Once again, she's suggesting that the police use of surveillance cameras would invade your privacy and move us towards a police state like that described in the old 1949 satirical Orwellian "Big Brother" book called "1984."

Back in 2010, when we all basked in the proud glow of our Winter Olympics, I got really tired of all the demands for dismantling of surveillance cameras that were available, offered, and gifted to the City of Vancouver.

"CCTV cameras must vanish after 2010", cried the then-privacy commissioner. "We are not that kind of city," was the message from the mayor's office. So out went a state-of-the-art surveillance system with its 89 CCTV cameras reduced to 14 that apparently exists under questionable controlled use today.

I predicted that the removal of this "worrisome" CCTV system would cost society a lot in ongoing court and policing costs to try to convict the guilty in a drug-addicted, crime-ridden city core with gang violence.

While few would argue that we were not THAT kind of city, I did not predict that a full scale riot would happen a year later. That resulted in our police department begging the public for their wimpy cellphone videos that offer lousy resolution -- absolutely inadequate for the face recognition software offered by ICBC, a Crown corporation.

From my point of view, the situation immediately after the riots was stupid piled on top of stupid. As a native law-abiding Vancouverite, a technology engineer, a citizen and a taxpayer, that riot made me feel sick and the lack of CCTV cameras made me sicker.

We all know that CCTV cameras are very good at helping our police convict the guilty. We all know that today's police work is much to do about evidence gathering. CCTV cameras do just that; they quietly, discreetly, unobtrusively gather evidence for professional police work.

I would wager a bet that 100 per cent of the Stanley Cup rioters who confessed did so because of incriminating video pictures. The hundreds of rioters who are getting away free of conviction had no video evidence to implicate them.

Isn't it time now, finally, for privacy pundits to stop picking on the use of CCTV cameras by our police?

It is in our collective interest -- the interest of public security and justice -- to equip police properly over the protests of personal privacy pundits.

Those who argue feverishly for civil liberties may point to questionable statistics that simply do not account for all the untold stories of how advances in technology have legitimately helped police fulfill their responsibilities. For those who would rather limit the capabilities of their police forces, jeopardize public safety and prolong the suffering of victims, I suggest that without security, we would lose the foundation upon which civil liberties exist. Without security, we would have no freedom.