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.
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.