As the Toronto Police Service prepares to expand CCTV coverage in the GTA, this security camera footage of a BMW SUV going alpha-dog on top of someone’s hatchback, recorded last Thursday at an Extreme Fitness parking lot in Thornhill, has made us realize a few things:
A) It is actually possible to drive guiltily. Somewhere between R, D, and N on that SUV’s gearshift is a little notch marked: “OH SHI-.”
B) In large part, people are unaware of the extent of surveillance surrounding them in Toronto and its environs. (Note: Thornhill isn’t served by TPS and thus won’t be affected by the CCTV push.)
C) Surveillance that is invisible and ubiquitous is also remarkably effective in the service of justice.
With regards to C, in the far more serious and not-at-all-funny case of Christopher Skinner, killed on the eighteenth in a hit-and-run, security camera footage might prove instrumental in tracking down the killers, as the Globe points out. Also, Michael Bryant’s case will likely hinge on security camera footage.
CCTV has the power to hold people accountable for misdeeds, and that’s undoubtedly a good thing. But it also has the power to invade privacy and mortify the unwitting. Hilarious though the above video is, and as much as it will help in tracking down a person who broke the law, it’s also someone’s deeply humiliating moment—and thanks to whoever leaked it, it has been getting wide exposure. YouTube made it Torontoist’s province, but it’s clearly none of our business.
Google has taught us that surveillance can be fun, and the Toronto Police Services Board, which approved its new CCTV implementation plan last Thursday, makes a convincing case for CCTV’s utility in promoting public safety. But let’s all stay just a little bit worried about the proliferation of hidden cameras in the city, hey? They’re only good as long as the people monitoring them are.