Ottawa Taxi Drivers Protected Better Than Edmonton Police Constables

January 01, 2014

For the past five years the City of Ottawa has mandated the installation of security cameras, to record taxicab occupants – both drivers and passengers. For privacy reasons, images from the camera are only downloaded by the police and used for the purposes of law enforcement when there are reasonable grounds to believe that a Criminal Code offence has taken place.

Which leads to the question: if such devices can be made mandatory for Ottawa taxis, why are they not mandatory for Ottawa police vehicles, or indeed all police vehicles? Why do police officers not at least use body-worn cameras? Why should it be that Ottawa taxi drivers and passengers be better protected than other cities and indeed be better protected than police officers and the public across Canada even here in Edmonton? Such devices would offer increased protection for the public and for police themselves. In recent years there have been many high-profile incidents with conflicting reports that could have been easily resolved if there was video evidence available. A picture is worth a thousand conflicting stories, and the camera doesn’t lie.

The argument that such devices would be expensive to install doesn’t hold much weight. The cameras would pay for themselves. Faced with video evidence many accused would plead guilty rather than trying to outwit the system. As a result, court costs would be greatly reduced and justice would be speeded up. One day in court can cost over $20,000, body-worn video cameras cost approximately $1,200; such evidence would also help protect police from suggestions of improper actions. The technology is there, it makes sense to use it! Battery powered Segways are great for saving constables from the drudgery of pedaling bicycles but they do nothing to protect the police and public from false accusations.

What do you think?