News Local

City oks look at cameras

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Security cameras. Getty Images

Security cameras. Getty Images

Pembroke may soon be coming under the eye of more police monitored cameras in the near future

 

On Tuesday, Pembroke's finance and administration committee voted to back the Pembroke Police Services Board on the idea of looking into obtaining and placing more surveillance cameras to monitor the city's trouble spots.

Terry Lapierre, the city's CAO, said the police board was recommending the concept of additional surveillance equipment be installed in various areas throughout Pembroke, as recommended by the Ontario Provincial Police.

He said in 2014, the board had been successful in receiving a crime prevention grant, using it to purchase surveillance equipment, which was installed in various locations throughout the downtown core.

“Using statistical data, the OPP have identified additional locations throughout Pembroke where extra surveillance equipment is recommended,” Lapierre said. “The board members were in favour of the concept of having additional surveillance equipment installed based on the data provided by the OPP.”

He said if this is approved, the cost of purchasing and installing additional video surveillance equipment could be financed from the credit the city recently received from the province for being billed for a second secretary at the detachment, or it can be included in the 2018 budget deliberations.

Lapierre said he estimated the cost for the extra cameras would run between $4,000 and $5,000, based on costs to obtain and install cameras back in 2014.

While committee members were in favour of the idea as an investigative tool for the police as well as a general deterrent to crime, two councillors voted against it.

Coun. John McCann and Pat Lafreniere both came out strongly opposed to the idea, and in a recorded vote were the only two to vote against it.

McCann was particularly incensed about moving ahead with it, considering how little information the committee was getting from the police board to justify the expense and the potential invasion of privacy.

“The problem I have with this is there has been no public consultation on this, and no information or data on whether the cameras do work as an effective crime prevention or crime solving tools,” he said.

“If we're going to ask taxpayers for the funding to do this, we should be able to show they work in dealing with crime.”

McCann said they were just blindly accepting the word of the police the cameras are needed, without having any concrete information to prove it.

Deputy Mayor Ron Gervais, who serves as the chairman of the police board, said the police will never give out information on how effective their investigative techniques are, nor will they disclose where the cameras are now or would be located.

He said it would be counterproductive to reveal to the criminals where and when they are being watched, as that would defeat the whole purpose of the cameras.

Gervais said he can say footage from one of the cameras, located near the Pembroke Memorial Centre, caught video footage of the accident which claimed the life of Ernie Hall in January 2015. This evidence helped to convict the driver of the vehicle responsible for the accident.

Coun, Christine Reavie, who is also a member of the police board, said she can't see anyone opposing a method of catching criminals. She said if the existence of cameras results in the capture of once criminal, it would be worth it.

Mayor Michael LeMay said he sees the cameras as a crime prevention tool, while Coun. Les Scott said any time the city can give the police tools to do their jobs more effectively, they should do it.

Lafreniere said she was worried about Big Brother watching everyone through the cameras, with the police having access to the footage anytime they want. She said she doubted whether the equipment would deter crime, as most of it is fueled by the need for drugs, particularly opiates.

“Drug addiction is what is driving crime here,” she said, and the thought of being caught isn't going to deter an addict from getting the money for another fix.

Lafreniere said she'd rather see the money spent on drug prevention programs rather than on surveillance gear.

In the end, the committee did agree – except for Lafreniere and McCann - to back the police board as it looking further into the idea of getting more cameras.

Councillors did ask the board to provide some statistical data about the use of cameras, giving them some idea how they are working without jeopardizing police operations.

SUhler@postmedia.com