Montreal police will install playground cameras, catching local community groups off guard

Ousseynou Ndiaye was shocked to learn that Montreal police would not only install a public camera in his neighborhood, but install it in a children’s playground.

Ndiaye, the executive director of A route for everyone — a Montreal North community group that provides social services to citizens — participated in first Montreal forum on armed violence, but was unaware of the decision to install a camera at Henri-Bourassa Park, just down the street from his organization.

“I don’t feel comfortable with them going ahead without holding a consultation,” he said. “The decision must be justified.

The Service de police de Montréal (SPVM) will be adding nine more cameras in public spaces over the next few months. It comes after the SPVM installed nine cameras last fall in the boroughs of Montreal-North, Rivière-des-Prairies, Saint-Michel and Sud-Ouest.

A total of 42 public cameras will be installed in Montreal by the end of the year.

According to police, to combat gun violence, four of the nine new cameras will be placed in children’s parks, Nelson-Mandela Park in Côte-des-Neiges, Ferland Park in Saint-Léonard and Roseraies Park in Anjou. .

The SPVM told CBC News in a statement that locations receiving cameras are prioritized based on “an increase in violent crime, including gun violence” and the result of consultation between neighborhood stations and police units. criminal investigation by the SPVM.

“The role of the urban security camera is to have a beneficial effect on the feeling of security of all people who live in, cross or frequent the neighborhood, including the most vulnerable clientele,” they said. “It’s also a tool to help fight crime.”

New camera located in Square Cabot

Police say one of the new cameras will be placed at the intersection of Lambert-Closse and Sainte-Catherine streets, on the outskirts of Cabot Square, after the area saw a spike in violent crime, including a murder in October latest.

Nakuset, co-director of Resilience Montreal, which is located across the square, says her group was not consulted before police broke the news.

She says she asked for cameras to be installed in the square years ago when she started the Cabot Square project, but her requests were ignored.

As the Raphaël André memorial tent has been in operation at the square for more than a year, she says staff alert the police whenever there is a security concern. The tent supports hundreds of vulnerable people daily.

The Raphaël Memorial Tent in Cabot Square has been serving a vulnerable clientele since February 2021. (Chloe Ranaldi/CBC)

“We can’t find that [shootings] happen very often,” she says. “There are other places in Montreal where there are shootings. It’s not happening around Cabot Square.”

“Those who move into condos, they might want to have more security there. And that’s why you really need to start working on co-living.”

The SPVM specifies that the camera does not target the tent, but “the intersection of the park more broadly”.

Lack of evidence to support the measure

The SPVM did not provide CBC News with any data showing a decrease in crime in public spaces equipped with cameras.

Without proof of the effectiveness of cameras in reducing crime, the League of Rights and Freedoms, a human rights group, is not convinced they will make communities safer.

Catherine Descoteaux, the group’s coordinator, says she is concerned about cameras facilitating racial profiling and their impact on the privacy of community members.

“Even when we are in a public space, we still have the right to anonymity,” she said. “This anonymity is an essential component of the right to privacy.”

Ndiaye says that while many residents of Montreal North were in favor of installing two more security cameras in the borough due to crime, the goal is not to have one on every street corner. .

“We do not want [cameras] become abusive,” he says. “Today is Henri-Bourassa Park. Tomorrow we don’t know where they will be next.”