Ontario is spending $6M to help police buy more surveillance cameras
Is mass surveillance the answer to rising rates of violent crime in Ontario? Nobody knows for certain, but the provincial government is willing to give it a try.
Premier Doug Ford announced a new, $6 million grant program on Monday afternoon that allows regional police services to apply for funds to buy more closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras — something the province calls "a key tool in the fight against guns and gangs and other criminal activity."
The funds will be distributed over the course of three years to help gradually expand the coverage of Ontario's closed-circuit television systems.
Police departments can apply for the grant beginning today to help them purchase new CCTV cameras and pay for associated supplies, software and installation costs.
"Surveillance systems are an important part of our partnership with police services to combat gun and gang violence. We are confident this investment will help municipalities expand their CCTV capacity and ramp up the local fight against crime," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones in a release announcing the grant on Monday.
We are investing $6M to expand CCTV systems across Ontario over the next 3 years to help communities to combat violence and to crack down on crime.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) August 10, 2020
CCTV technology is one of the best tools we have to gain critical advantage over criminal organizations. https://t.co/pA4luzLdT6 pic.twitter.com/nijguR4Jsc
"Criminals are always finding new ways of covering their tracks," Jones continued. "But our government is determined to ensure municipalities and police services have the tools and resources they need to detect criminal activity and keep Ontarians safe."
This particular grant is on top of the roughly $106 million in provincial and federal funds available through Ontario's Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy, and on top of the $3 million Ontario gave to Toronto Police last year to purchase more CCTV cameras.
"In light of recent episodes of violence, it's absolutely critical that we give our police the tools and resources they need to keep people safe and ensure businesses and communities can recover from the impacts of COVID-19 without fear of crime," said Ford of the program.
"This investment will help keep our streets safe, bring violent criminals to justice, and ensure people can rebuild their lives in peace."
No word yet on whether municipal police departments plan to pair their new cameras with facial-recognition technology, but they'd be wise to tell the public about it if they do.
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