In-Car Video Cams – Toronto Police

Update:  see previous posts –  August 30, 2011 Facial Recognition/Biometric Technology – Borders, Airports, Waterways, April 11, 2010 Automatic Licence Plate Recognition Technology (ALPR) Deployed on Toronto Highways, December 3, 2009 OPP begin using ALPR, March 18, 2009 Automatic Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) in British Columbia, March 15, 2009 Lights, Cameras, Roll’em (April 2009 – Toronto)

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British First Edition Cover . George Orwell wrote this dystopian fiction, concerning a society ruled by an oligarchical dictatorship.

62 years ago, on June 8, 1949, British author George Orwell published his book “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. It describes a world led by an enigmatic dictator, “Big Brother”. The population of this world (Oceania) are under complete and constant pervasive government surveillance and mind control by the authorities, including the thought police. The people are always being told that “Big Brother is watching you”.

Orwell was from the United Kingdom and he knew, over half a century ago, where government’s would go with technology, if given the opportunity.

The United Kingdom is seen as a pioneer of mass surveillance. At the end of 2006 it was described by the Surveillance Studies Network as being ‘the most surveilled country’ among the industrialized Western states.

Since 2009, Toronto police have heavily invested in CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television – is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors) and in-car videocams.

Toronto Police CCTV

Other police forces are using body cams (videocams clipped to bicycle helmets, sunglasses, lapels and vests) and Toronto police admit that although they are not yet using these, they eventually will (when a budget allows for this costly expenditure).

Along with the videocams that are in-car (pointed out to the vehicle in front of their cruiser and into the back seat of the crusier), police officer’s have microphones clipped to their body, picking up any conversation with the driver or occupant of the motor vehicle.  While they are standing at the side of the vehicle, the in-car camera is recording the officer and driver/occupant, along with audio.

Toronto Police have the ability to turn this equipment on and off at will – it doesn’t automatically run when a vehicle is stopped or when a person is placed in the back of the police cruiser.


In-Car Camera System (ICCS) Project

Since the 1990’s the Toronto Police Service has utilized various forms of technology that make up In Car Camera Systems. The original systems, that were based on VHS Tape, to the state-of-the-art digital systems that followed, have been tested and piloted extensively by both 13 Division and Traffic Services.

The evolution of the ICCS has allowed for more compact, reliable and advanced systems to be tested and put into use in the front line efforts of police around the world. These systems are a valuable tool for officers in recording their interactions with the public.

By mid-2011, all Toronto Police Service front line vehicles will be equipped with ICCS.

The cameras are capable of recording all interactions between police and the public, including traffic stops and rear seat prisoner transportation. The vehicles have two cameras, one facing out the windshield and one that captures the rear seat area.

Toronto Police Cruiser with Onboard Videocam

Officers wear microphones that capture all the audio that occurs and advise the public that the vehicles have the systems in place and that their interaction is being recorded in both video and audio format.

The cameras are activated by the use of the vehicles emergency equipment, manually by the officer or by collision sensors within the vehicle.

The extensive piloting of this system has cleared the way for the approval of a Service wide implementation of the ICCS beginning this year. This implementation will take place in several stages beginning in the downtown area of the city.

The Toronto Police Service is committed to professional, unbiased policing. The In Car Camera System has been designed and implemented with officer and community safety, quality evidence for court purposes and the protection of our officers from unwarranted accusations of misconduct in mind.

Any member of the public who’s been recorded by the in-car-cameras can access the footage under the Freedom of Information Act. The authority for the collection of personal information is found in:

• The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Section 28(2)
• The Police Services Act, Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990, Sections 41 and 42

The information recorded will be used for the purpose of law enforcement. Questions about this collection may be addressed to:

The Freedom of Information Unit
40 College Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2J3

Requests for access to the information collected may be made under the Municipal Freedom of Information Act, and should be addressed, in writing, along with a payment of $5 (cheques to be made payable to the Toronto Police Service) to the address shown above. In order to verify identity, please provide photocopies of two pieces of government identification – one with a photograph.

Please provide specific details of the requested event such as date, time, location and any other related information.




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