Body cameras only a part of the solution to re-building trust in the police
The Toronto Police recently announced a one-year $500,000 pilot project to outfit 100 officers with body cameras to record investigations and dealings with the public. At first look, $5,000 per officer seems outrageous until we consider that this is a pilot study with many facets of which the physical equipment comprises only a small portion of the budget. Online research shows dedicated police body cams starting at only US$199, but the data storage and management costs typically exceed the cost of the equipment by many times per year. The costs to outfit every Toronto officer would be many millions initially, with significant ongoing costs annually.
Nonetheless, the cost/benefit ratio to both the police and Canadians in general will, I strongly believe, fall on the side of implementing the system for every police officer in contact with the public or involved in conducting investigations.
As a former Toronto Police sergeant and undercover investigator of organized crime, I know that the simple knowledge that events are being recorded has a profoundly positive effect upon the behaviours of both police officers and citizens. Even the possibility of hidden recordings due to the universal presence of cell phone videocams is already having an impact upon officer behaviour, to the benefit of all concerned.
I have often relied upon hidden audio and video recordings because they present to the court and everyone the irrefutable truth. Such recordings are only a part of the evidence and have their own limitations, but at least they deter any liars on all sides from fabricating evidence and narratives out of thin air: or expose them after they have done so as more than a few rogue police officers in Canada and the USA have discovered lately.
Other citizens commented on a recent Globe and Mail editorial praising the Toronto Police initiative, that the real test of the police body cameras will be in whether the police and justice system actually use the video recordings to hold police officers accountable for serious wrongdoing.
Time for independent civilian oversight of Ontario’s lawyers?
At least with the police, there is independent civilian oversight on several levels as well as the efforts of the media and hardworking lawyers to try to ensure justice is done and also seen to be done. Not so with Ontario’s legal profession though.
The Law Society of Upper Canada operates without independent or civilian oversight, and as recent exposes have shown there have been hundreds of incidents where the law society has quietly covered-up criminal wrongdoing by lawyers under circumstances that I and other ordinary citizens find to be a reprehensible double standard.
The Toronto Star’s ‘Broken Trust‘ series of articles looked into why over 80% of Ontario lawyers who commit serious criminal offences in relation to their law practice never face criminal sanctions.
In my personal case, many senior lawyers readily acknowledge that my secretly made voice recordings irrefutably prove that certain Ontario lawyers fabricated evidence and lied to the courts to obtain my conviction in absentia for contempt of court in a civil case costs hearing. As well, sworn forensic evidence filed in the courts details how Miller Thomson LLP Toronto law office personnel sent anonymous threats to my company’s witnesses via the Internet.
Add to this solid evidence that Faskens law office illegally hired a corrupt serving Ontario Provincial Police detective sergeant to conduct an illegal investigation of me ‘on the side’ to benefit private interests in a civil case. Further, throw into the mix irrefutable evidence that Toronto lawyer Gerald Ranking represented a fraudulent non-entity before Ontario’s courts and the Supreme Court of Canada. His client did not, and does not, exist. Never has. Nonetheless, this fraudulent ‘PricewaterhouseCoopers East Caribbean Firm’ filed motions before the court that put me in jail, based upon fabricated evidence.
All this is known to the Law Society of Upper Canada, yet that organization continues to ignore the inconvenient voice recordings and other forensic evidence that would mean they have to take action against some of their own senior members of the inner brotherhood.
In contrast, at least with the police bodycams there is some civilian oversight and independent accountability.
While no one would seriously suggest body cams for lawyers, all citizens could benefit from civilian oversight and increased accountability for Ontario’s lawyers.
As always we remind our readers that none of the allegations in Best v Ranking has yet been proven in a court of law, and to our knowledge only one of the defendants has filed a Statement of Defence. Visitors to this website are encouraged to examine the legal documents and other evidence posted here, to do independent research and to make up their own minds about the civil lawsuit known as ‘Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking et al’. (Superior Court of Justice, Central East Region: Barrie, Court File No. 14-0815)
Police body video camera photo courtesy of Pinnacle Response Ltd.