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Copcam plan eyed

SHAWN LOGAN, CALGARY SUN | October 21 2006

The Calgary Police Commission will turn its focus on using surveillance cameras as a crime-fighting tool after launching a study into the practice earlier this week.

Ald. Craig Burrows, who sits on the commission and has called for the city to look at the idea, said many questions surround the use of surveillance cameras, in-cluding cost, privacy issues and who will be responsible for paying for and monitoring them.

"We're looking at the merits of having surveillance in some places that could help with certain problems.

"But we want to make sure we're not implementing a police state or big brother."

The study will look at other cities that have used the technology and try to determine the right fit for Calgary.

Burrows said the city already has hundreds of cameras -- at traffic lights, LRT platforms and city hall -- that could be modified and used to help police to gather evidence or capture fugitives among other uses.

"We don't want to spend too much so we might need to upgrade what we already have or look at new technology," he said.

With Alberta Solicitor General Harvey Cenaiko investing in a $100-million program to upgrade Alberta police departments' information technology capabilities, Burrows said some of that funding could help fuel a surveillance pilot here.

"It really comes down to how much the solicitor general wants to get involved," he said, noting such a program may not yet make sense for Calgary.

A report is slated to come back to the commission by the end of the year.



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