Automatic Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) in British Columbia

Update: see previous post March 15, 2009 Lights, Cameras, Roll’em (April 2009 – Toronto)

Law Enforcement in British Columbia is using ALPR, computer software capable of scanning, capturing and identifying 3000 motor vehicles licence plates per hour.

Before police officers deploy the system everyday, they perform a daily download of CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre’s database, which in addition to identifying those individuals which have outstanding arrest warrants; also acts as the automated criminal records retrieval system which has full access to the Criminal Name Index (CNI) ) and the British Columbia’s Motor Vehicle Departments information. The system at this point, has only been programmed to include information that has been downloaded (includes stolen licence plates, unlicensed plates, uninsured vehicles, etc).

Each police car that utilizes this technology, is equipped with three (3) digital video cams (hooked up to the computer). These video cams take recorded images of each vehicle, which includes the occupants of those vehicle being recorded and the software of this system isolates the licences and runs them through the systems, which connect to all of the databases.

In each police car using ALPR, there are two forward facing videocams (one which videotapes vehicles on the left and another that videotapes vehicles on the right) and one video cam,(positioned on a 90 degree angle to easily record images of licence plates on vehicles parked in a parking lot) on the side of the police car which videotapes the licence plate images.

The police officer featured in the video feels this technology will revolutionize policing in North America and admits that the technology can be tailored for other tasks (future considerations: National Security, Counter Terrorism, Organized Crime and the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver).

Update: June 28, 2009 – RoboCop move over…

In British Columbia’s City of Victoria’s police officers have begun familiarizing themselves, over the last few weeks, with”body-worn” video cameras attached to sunglasses or bicycle helmets that can be activated to record (audio-visual) incidents. The “body-worn” video cameras, which also record sound, will be donned by two bike-patrol officers, two beat patrol officers and two traffic cameras, who will utilize the “body-worn” video cameras with car-mounted video cameras. The body-worn video cameras can only be manipulated or deleted through a desktop computer system located at the police station. The miniature cameras, with audio-visual capability are on loan from two different manufacturers and will be widely tested by Victoria police during a pilot project, for the next two months, This technology has been embraced in Europe over the last few years.

Victoria police officers will introduce this new technology on Canada Day into Victoria’s Inner Harbour area, where it is expected up to 50,000 party goers will congregate in a celebratory mood. During this time, Victoria police will be conducting liquor searches, during which time, the Victoria Regional Transit System will be banning passengers from possessing alcohol from its buses. Victoria is the only city in British Columbia to ban and prohibit riders from possessing and carrying unpackaged beer, alcohol and wine onto its buses. Police will be strictly enforcing the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.

One of the companies in the U.S. offering licence plate recognition technology.

See stories:The Canadian Press, Times Colonist, CANADAEAST,

Lights, Cameras, Roll’em (April 2009 – Toronto)


Videocam mounted inside the Toronto Police Cruisers right of the rear-view mirror

Surveillance is everywhere and we are told that it is there for our own good and that it can act as a deterrent to those up to no good. Others believe that we have a responsibility to watch Big Brother.

Here is a link to live Ministry of Transportation Camera feeds, that are always on &  rolling, 24/7.

Remember, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean that they aren’t watching you or aren’t listening to you.

There is an article on page 5 of the February/March 2009 issue of “The Badge” titled “Cameras Rolling this Spring“. In this page 5 article, featured in a Toronto Police Service newspaper, Sgt. Tim Burrows (Traffic Services) informs the reader that: most motor vehicles used by the Police, in the performance of their duties, are outfitted with equipment that can video (uses Panasonic Arbitrator Camera Systems) and audio tape all exchanges between Police and the public and prisoners, who are placed in the rear seat of a police vehicle. This pilot project commenced in 2006 in  Toronto.

Videocam that is turned on by Toronto police to record events in front of their cruiser.

Each police vehicle is equipped with this solid-state digital video and audio system.  When a police officer approaches your vehicle, it is being recorded digitally with video and audio.  The police officer is wearing a microphone and is recording everything you say.  As you are speaking to the police officer, the audio is being taped and the exchange between yourself and the police officer that has approached you is being videotaped.

When this idea was first announced by the City of Toronto, the Union (the Police Association) representing the police officers opposed it, saying it was a bad idea.  Apparently now, according to the article, there is acceptance of this new system, and some wouldn’t drive without it, since this idea was implemented.

Each police vehicle is equipped with two digital video recorders, one facing the front of the vehicle (capturing the action in front of the police vehicle) and one facing the rear seat, to capture the prisoner’s movements while he/she are being transported.

The digital video/audio systems are turned on manually by the police officer, using the police vehicles emergency equipment or automatically by collision sensors within the police officer’s vehicle.  To capture what is going on in the rear seat of the police officer’s vehicle, the camera must be manually turned on by the police officer, to capture the prisoner’s movements.

According to the article in “The Badge” police officers, who are wearing microphones, are suppose to inform the driver of a motor vehicle when they are pulled over, that their vehicles have in them, systems that “record their interactions, in both video and audio format”.

Once the police officer has provided a certificate of offence (a ticket) to the driver, the police officer can simply download the digital video/audio recording, near (via wireless download) or at a police station.  The digital recording is maintained automatically for a year or can be stored for longer periods, if the police officer who issued the ticket, initiates this option, at his/her discretion.

In April of this year, the digital video/audio recording systems, will begin to be installed in police vehicles, starting in those Toronto Police Divisions (14, 51 & 52) given that these police stations are technologically up to date with fibre optic networks.

Remember if your entire interaction is being monitored and recorded, be very careful and use caution when entering into any verbal exchange with a police officer.  If you feel uncomfortable or nervous, inform the police officer that you do not want to talk to them about the incident and would prefer legal advice before you speak to anyone.  This is your right, but the police officer won’t tell you that unless you are being arrested.  If the police officer opens the conversation with “Where are you going in such a rush”? This is a loaded question and no matter how you answer it, your answer will be detrimental.  You are better off saying “here is my licence, ownership and insurance,  I would prefer not talking to you about anything until I have received legal advice, thank-you” and then hand him/her your documentation.  Always remain guarded about any exchange you have while being monitored, remember the police officer is not nervous because this function is part of their everyday job, you on the other hand will find this experience frightening and nerve racking, as it is not a routine event in your life.

Under those circumstances, the police officer will have the upper hand and will present well, on the digital video/audio recording, whereas you will probably not present well and therefore, avoid the exchange and say as little as possible or necessary to speed up the process and extricate yourself from the situation as soon as possible, with as little damage as possible. Remember, the police officer is always cognizant or aware, that the camera/audio is rolling and recording and you are not. If you are ticketed, request a trial and challenge it in court and request a copy of this digital recording, under disclosure, prior to your trial.

Update: May 22, 2009 – The Police Services Board (TPSB) rejected the City of Toronto Police Chief’s recommendation to continue to use multi-million dollar closed-circuit television cameras; the TPSB aren’t convinced that this camera network acts as a successful crime deterrant.

Update: May 11, 2010 – In Toronto, the camera and microphones are currently being used by officers in the traffic services unit, and seven divisions — including stations 13, 14, 22, 23, 51, 52, and 53 — which covers most of the central and western parts of Toronto. The other divisions in the eastern part of Toronto, and possibly the marine unit, will be outfitted as the project spreads over this year and into 2011.

Update: August 2, 2010 – Toronto Police consider utilizing bodycam’s, later.

Immigration and Refugee Board (Immigration Appeal Division) Deports Street Racer


Justice Ian Binnie of the Supreme Court, wrote the decision upon behalf of the majority (7-1) ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada, in the case of Mr. Sukhvir Singh Khosa.  Mr. Khosa pleaded with the court to allow him to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, after the Immigration and Refugee Board had earlier ordered that he be deported. The Supreme Court ruled that it would not interfere with the earlier decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board to deport Mr. Khosa.

Sequence of Events:

In Vancouver, British Columbia on November 2000, Irene Thorpe was out taking an evening walk.  Mr. Khosa who racing his Chevrolet Camaro at about 120 kilometres an hour in a 50 kilometre posted zone against his friend,Bahadur Singh Bhalr, lost control of his vehicle, which ended Ms. Thorpe’s life. Both men were charged with criminal negligence causing death

Almost two years later, on October 18, 2002 both men were found guilty of criminal negligence causing death. Bahadur Singh Bhalru was the Bhalru is the first person convicted in British Columbia of criminal negligence causing death whose vehicle didn’t hit the victim.

On Monday, February 3, 2003  British Columbia Supreme Court Judge Linda Loo sentenced both men to the following:

Bahadur Singh Bhalru, 23, and Sukhvir Singh Khosa, 20, were handed conditional sentences of two years, less a day – to be served at home, so they can continue to work and go to school. In addition to these conditional sentences, both men were placed on probation for three (3) years and their driver’s licences were revoked for five years.

Following the convictions, the Immigration Board ordered a valid removal order to return both Bhalru and Khosa to India.

Bahadur Singh Bhalru returned to India in 2005. Sukhir Singh Khose approached the Immigration Appeal Division requesting special relief on “humanitarian and compassionate grounds” from the removal order. The Immigration Appeal Division denied special relief on “humanitarian and compassionate grounds” from the removal order.

Bhalru appealed the Immigration Appeal Division’s decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board to the Federal Court of Appeal. A majority of the Federal Court of Appeal applied a “reasonableness” simpliciter standard and set aside the IAD (Immigration and Appeal Division) decision. In the end, the Federal Court of Appeal concluded that the majority of the IAD had acted unreasonably in denying relief.

At the Supreme Court Justice Binnie ruled, in part:
“In light of the deference properly owed to the IAD under s. 67(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) there was no proper basis for the Federal Court of Appeal to interfere with the Immigration and Appeal Division (IAD) decision to refuse special relief in this case. It cannot be said that this decision fell outside the range of reasonable outcomes.”

Today’s ruling of Canada’s Supreme Court against Mr. Khosa, overturns the Federal Court of Appeal decision, which now means that the original decision of the IAD will stand and that that decision, will now have to be implemented (deportation of Mr. Khosa) and carried out.

The Immigration Laws of Canada allows for a non-citizen to be deported for a criminal offence carrying a sentence up to 10 years. Criminal Negligence Causing Death carries a maximum sentence of life in prison (See PART VIII of the Criminal Code: Criminal Negligence – Causing death by criminal negligence – section 220 “Causing death by criminal negligence”: Every person who by criminal negligence causes death to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable: subsection (b)”….to imprisonment for life”).

It isn’t over yet, as there are still opportunities available to Mr. Khosa in the near future.

Street Racing is still an ongoing problem in Ontario, as well as within the Greater Toronto Area (the “GTA”).

Another death attributed to a street racer, who doesn’t want to drive anymore.

Update: November 39, 2009: Two teens charged with Street Racing

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Should Paying $ 850.00 An Hour, to a Law Firm, Concern McGuinty?


It was recently revealed that the Ontario Government was involved in a nine (9) year civil suit, spending over 23.4 Million Dollars and winning 3.5 Million Dollars, plus interest and costs.

During this period the Ontario Government had retained a Bay Street Law Firm in Toronto to represent the Province, charging lawyer fees up to $ 850.00 an hour (about 100 times greater than the minimum wage in Ontario).

One can’t help wonder if the law firm wanted to take advantage of its client, known to have deep pockets and a fairly good credit rating.

Given the enormous bill confronting the Ontario Government, someone may ask why the Ontario Government didn’t approach this Bay Street Law Firm and ask them to lower their fees, upon receiving the final bill?

This same Bay Street Law Firm attempted to squeeze court costs of $ 30,975.00 dollars from another veteran litigator, who knew this firm was overcharging him and he said “no”. The matter went to the Superior Court of Ontario and the Judge hearing the matter, reduced the whopping fee of $ 30,975.00 to $ 7,500.00, a reduction of over $ 23,000.00.

Challenging your lawyers fees is outlined in a page in in a page titled “Challenging Your Lawyer’s Fees”. This page goes over each step of the process and informs you how to save money when you discover you are being overcharged. You have to wait for your lawyer’s final bill and at that point you have 30 days to challenge your lawyers fees at a Superior Court in Ontario, in front of an Assessment Officer or Master. More often then not, people who challenge these fees are rewarded with a reduction in the fees they will have to pay. In the example above, the senior litigator was able to shave off over $ 23,000.00 of the original invoice he was presented with. This happened in the Province of Ontario’s Superior Court. hopes to help motorists fight their tickets, without the need for expensive lawyers or paralegals and to win, thus avoiding hefty increases in their auto insurance premiums.

In the economy facing all of us at the present, we have to learn to defend ourselves without the expensive assistance of expensive lawyers and expensive paralegals. Knowledge is power and if you follow the simple steps outlined in fightyourtickets, you will acquire as much knowledge and experience as you will require, to represent your own matter(s), with a successful outcome.

Toronto Ranked as 3rd Most Polite City



How Polite Are We?

We ranked the world. Out of 36 cities, Toronto placed third, Montreal 21st.

Inside the Toronto Tally


Toronto ranked third for courtesy out of 36 major cities around the world, with 70 percent of people tested taking a moment to do the courteous thing. Reader’s Digest had two reporters go to central residential neighbourhoods, downtown shopping areas and the financial district. They “tested” Bay Street bond traders, part-time cashiers, lawyers, students and artists. Here’s a snapshot of what they found:

Service With a Smile

Customer service is alive and well in Toronto: 16 out of 20 cashiers passed the courtesy test by saying a pronounced thank you when we made a small purchase. At a bulk food store on Danforth Avenue, Sean Thomson, a tall 30-year-old with shaved head and pierced ears, smiled and thanked our researcher twice before wishing her a nice day. He did the same for everyone else in line. Why? “It’s what my boss wants, and what my parents taught me. It’s about respect.” Jessica, 24, a cashier at a chocolate shop, echoed Sean. “You don’t just take the customer’s money and say, ‘See you later.’” She added, “The staff here, we talk about how we expect the same courtesy when we’re the customer, but we don’t always get it, and that’s disappointing.”

Jessica wouldn’t have been happy with the service at a women’s clothing store in the Eaton Centre mall downtown, where a fashionably dressed young woman with thick black eyeliner barely said a word to our researcher throughout the transaction. When asked about it afterwards, she said sheepishly, “We’re supposed to say, ‘Thank you for shopping here,’ but sometimes I forget.”

That was the exception, as we found that male and female cashiers in stores large and small were quite courteous, thank you very much. At a newsstand, our reporter bought a packet of gum and was thanked by Zeny Ruiz, 44. “I like to set an example for my staff,” she told us, “but it’s also the right thing to do.” In an electronics store on Queen Street West, Daniel Hines, in baseball cap and army pants, said, “I thank every customer, even the ones who tick me off. Ultimately, it makes your own day go a little smoother.”

Paper Chase

Would you take a minute to stop and help a stranger gather up some papers they’d dropped on the sidewalk or in a shopping centre? In Toronto, 11 out of 20 people we tested did.

That’s the lowest score of our three tests—and, interestingly, of the nine who “failed” the test, five were in their 60s and up. The oldest, Sergio Balmont, 79, told us after he and his wife walked past our female researcher, who was crouched down gathering papers, “I knew I should have helped, but I’m too old to bend down.” Most of the other elderly people who didn’t help told us politely that they didn’t want to get involved with someone else’s personal documents.

Of course, a couple of young people passed by without helping, too. “He looked like he had everything under control,” was the excuse of a shoe buyer from Montreal who saw our researcher picking up scattered papers from the wet sidewalk. But most did stop to assist—teens in particular. “Of course I helped,” said William Lee, 16. “I’d hope someone would do that for me.” Keilani Etzkorn and her friend Manuela, both high-school students, also stopped to help. Said Keilani: “It’s what my parents taught me to do.”

Door Stoppers

Our third test showed that three out of four Torontonians hold the door for a stranger—male or female—walking behind them. Most were pleased to stop and talk to us when we revealed we had set them up. “I do it all the time,” explained Meredith McLellan, 25, a fair-haired law student who held the door for our female reporter on her way out of the busy subway stop at Yonge and Eglinton. “I guess I was raised that way.”

It was a common theme. Faisal Bhiwandiwala, a 30-year-old tech-support worker who held the door for our male researcher during a Wednesday morning rush hour, told us courtesy is an instinct. “I was brought up that way. It’s the normal thing to do.”

Fifty-year-old Eric McGarry said, “As a teacher, I think it’s important to show that you’re thinking of others and not just yourself.”

In the St. Lawrence Market, two 14-year-old ponytailed girls could have used that lesson, but when asked why they didn’t hold the door, they claimed not to have seen anyone coming behind them. Similarly, a 41-year-old operations manager listening to her iPod said, “Normally, I’d have held it open, but I’m in a hurry to get back from lunch and I had my headphones on.”

Some who helped did so for practical reasons. In the Bay Street financial district, Brian Galley, a crisply dressed 38-year-old portfolio manager, pointedly held the door for our male researcher. “I always do,” he told us afterwards. “These doors are heavy, and you don’t want to let them slam on people.”

Ramona Taharally, also 38, offered a simple explanation for her courteous act. “People do it for me,” she said, “so I’m going to pass it on.”