The Eye on the Street camera on May Street and Victoria Avenue.
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Most residents would be willing to forfeit their freedom and rights if it meant safer streets, a councillor said.
City of Thunder Bay’s administration presented the latest numbers on the city’s Eye on the Street program as well as an overview of how well the program was fairing. The program, which features 16 police service cameras stationed in specific areas of the city, was created in an effort to deter criminal activity.
Cameras still in the Brodie Street and Victoria Avenue area continue to have the most suspicious activity caught on camera with 99 incidents recorded; an increase from last year’s 82 activities.The Water Street bus terminal recorded the second most suspicious activities with 71, followed by the intersection of Syndicate Avenue and Donald Street with 43.
But despite those numbers, the merit of the program was placed under scrutiny at city hall during Monday evening’s regular scheduled council meeting.
At-Large Coun. Aldo Ruberto defended the Eye on the Street, telling his fellow councillors that the cameras are another set of tools for police to use that isn’t meant to replace other crime prevention methods.
“People feel safer,” he said. “Whether that’s true or not true, they feel safer.
“Sometimes you are giving up your freedom of rights. If you had a choice between freedom of rights or safety, I think 90 per cent of people would choose safety. We can identify what actually happened. My question is when are we getting more and where are we going to put them? This is just another tool in the toolbox.”
Mayor Keith Hobbs wasn’t as confident that the cameras actually helped in preventing crime, and called the strategy reactive approach to solving the city’s crime problems. He added that the approach taken by the Crime Prevention Council is more of what the city needed.
Northwood Coun. Mark Bentz shared similar concerns. He said he didn’t want Thunder Bay to become another London, England, which is a city that has become the centrepiece of the surveillance debate because of its aggressive police camera program.
Bentz said he wanted more information to know if the cameras actually deterred crime.
“When you are spending a quarter of a million dollars, you have to be sure you are spending it the best way,” Bentz said.
“We could put out a thousand cameras out there because they are relatively cheap but is it a good idea?”
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