POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 21 PANS in the community Police are keeping an increasing number of eyes out for crime in Charlottetown — electronic ones, at least. Charlottetown Police Services started using video surveillance in 2009 as a preventative measure when large concerts were taking place at Confederation Landing Park, notes Deputy Chief Brad MacConnell. “Then we looked at using that as a crime prevention tool all over our city,’’ he says. The first wireless video, called E-Watch, went up in the capital city in 2015. Sixty-one more have since been installed, perched up high for a sweeping aerial view of potential trouble makers – people contemplating vandalism, theft, assault, among other criminal acts. MacConnell can see the number of wireless video cameras eventually reaching 100. Cameras are in public places throughout the downtown core, along the waterfront, near critical infrastructure and capturing high traffic areas like the Hillsborough Bridge. “We see a real value to expanding,’’ says the deputy chief, adding Charlottetown Police Services would like to get more sponsorship to have cameras installed in the northern part of the city, notably box store areas. MacConnell believes the highly visible cameras are serving well their intended purpose to reduce crime and to increase a sense of safety among Islanders and tourists alike. “Creating a safe environment is everybody’s responsibility in Prince Edward Island,’’ he says. “If you don’t feel safe, you’re not safe.’’ MacConnell says a sponsor, typically a local business or corporation, pays $5,000 to have a camera installed. He calls the investment good value for the money. Dyne Holdings Limited, which operates the Confederation Court Mall, observed “immediate improvement’’ once cameras were installed on Kent Street. Security staff calls declined, as did loitering. The Charlottetown Area Development Corporation says it is “very supportive of this program.’’ A local entrepreneur raved that he has not had a single incident of shoplifting since having an E-Watch camera installed outside his Charlottetown store. “The feedback that we’ve received has encouraged us to expand the program and where it will end up, who knows,’’ says MacConnell. “I think it’s been a real positive thing for our police department and our communities. It helps us protect not just our communities but our officers in a way that few municipalities enjoy.’’ He adds E-Watch has also provided “investigative value’’ in numerous instances caught on video. The wireless videos are not a strain on police resources, either, according to MacConnell. Brenda McPhail, director of the privacy, technology and surveillance project with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, says there is not a lot of empirical evidence that these cameras are a good deterrence to crime. She is also concerned that the cameras erode privacy. McPhail says since the E-Watch system is an intrusive method of public safety people should be given the opportunity to offer input and register concerns. “The public really needs to know what is being provided,’’ she says. “Our position is that it (use of the E-Watch system) is something for the community to decide.’’ As originally published on Dec 2, 2017by Jim Day, The Guardian Growing number of E-Watch cameras aims to deter crime in P.E.I.'s capital city Charlottetown Police Deputy Chief Brad MacConnell says the E-Watch system is helping to reduce crime in Charlottetown. continued on page 23