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Patrol cars to get cameras

Peter Crnogorac
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 20/06) - Two municipal enforcement vehicles will be outfitted with in-car cameras next year at a cost of $15,000.

"We're excited about the cameras," said Doug Gillard, manager of municipal enforcement for the City of Yellowknife.

"They'll help with patrols... especially with red lights and stop signs. Also, they'll be a tool for public complaints."

Dennis Marchiori, director of public safety and development said the cameras, allocated at $15,000 in the 2007 budget, will bring an element of safety to municipal enforcement.

"It's a positive for the officers because by telling someone they pulled over that they are being filmed and recorded it may deter the person from taking any action against them," he said.

Gillard said the safety issue is only one positive aspect of having cameras in the cars.

He said sometimes officers become involved in disagreements when attempting to ticket someone for a traffic violation such as running a red light.

"From the person's perspective, the light was amber, and from our prospective, it was red," he said. "With the cameras, we'll have evidence to what colour the light actually was."

Gillard added that by having video images of an offence, fewer people may try to contest the ticket in court.

"Going to court takes more time out of an officer's day," he said. "Hopefully they'll now spend more of the day on enforcement."

Kerry Nicholson, who has been a municipal enforcement officer in Yellowknife for almost a year, said he will feel more comfortable knowing a camera is recording his actions.

"It's a second set of eyes," he said.

Gillard said that sometimes officers are accused of not performing their duties properly.

"We can now look at the footage when investigating a complaint against one of our members," he said.

Mayor Gord Van Tighem said the money for the cameras is included in the 2007 budget as part of a planned city initiative.

"These cameras are part of a continuing effort to bring all public safety departments in the city up to date so they can do their jobs safely and effectively," he said.

Gillard said the city must go through a tendering process in order to choose the proper cameras, which means they will not be in operation until March at the earliest.