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Toronto police chief extends olive branch to security industry

Toronto’s top cop Bill Blair called for greater co-operation between police and the security industry at Security Canada Central in Toronto Oct. 23.



October 28, 2008
By Neil Sutton

“There’s a natural partnership that has to exist between us. I’m not in
your business, but your business is so closely aligned to my business
that we need to talk to each other and we need to share information,”
said Blair, speaking to a lunchtime crowd during the CANASA show.

He acknowledged that the Toronto Police Service (TPS) has not always been the
closest ally of the security industry and that other police services
that operate in the city have been more accommodating.

“There was a time when we might have been seen to be incompatible . . .
in competition . . . but I have come here today to assure you that we
have all come to the realization in my business that we have to lined
ourselves up to work with your business in we want to be successful,”
said Blair.

It’s in the TPS’s best interests to work alongside private security,
said Blair, in part because of the recent growth and advancement of
technology – particularly camera surveillance.

Cameras are the first thing police officers look for when they arrive on a crime scene in a public place, he said.

“I have 24 (cameras in the city); you have thousands,” said Blair,
referring to the number of cameras used by private interests like shops
and businesses. “So when we go looking for video images that are going
to help us solve those crimes, it’s your cameras we’re looking at.”

Blair said he’s been trying to develop more relationships in the
community since taking over the role from interim chief Mike Boyd in
2005. That includes putting more officers in uniform, reaching out to
the private sector and embracing changes in technology.

For example, the TPS has started posting security videos on YouTube in
order to develop more leads that could help solve crimes. The previous
policy of just releasing video to the six o’clock news was proving to
be ineffective, he said. The eyes the police need to reach are spending
more time on YouTube than they are watching television.

“It was kind of new for us and I was a little bit reticent, but I said,
‘Give it a try.’ Instantly, within days . . . the response increased
seven-fold,” said Blair, adding that one video received 402,000 views.

Blair also said he’s willing to work with CANASA to help the Canadian security industry regulate itself.

“If we are going to work together, there needs to be a better
understanding of which each of us can bring to the table, what each of
our respective responsibilities are.”