Tech could keep Canadians safer from violent offenders
Duvel Hibbert was out on bail awaiting trial on drug and breach of bail charges, when he was shot and killed in a gangland slaying at a Toronto nightclub in 2015. Police say he was targeted. Not so, as an innocent woman was also killed and three others injured in the attack. Had Hibbert not been out on bail, on charges of breaching previous bail conditions, perhaps all five of them would be alive and well today.
Friday, Toronto’s police chief Mark Saunders said 53 people arrested on firearms charges in August and September were released on bail, then re-arrested on bail for another offence. Of those, 24 were released on bail a second time.
Canada’s bail laws do a good job protecting the rights of the accused. As they should. But, they do a lousy job protecting Canadians from violent crime. There is a better way. Everyone out on bail, while charged with a violent offence, should wear a Gps-location monitor. This way, police would know when they breach their bail conditions by going somewhere or meeting someone they shouldn’t. Easier to find, too. Just like TV.
Unfortunately, such monitors are rarely used in Canada because they’re expensive and often don’t work at all like TV.
I naively assumed location monitors were used for people who might breach their bail conditions. Not so — they’re normally reserved for wealthy individuals who can afford to pay for the expensive technology themselves rather than sit in jail.
Seems like the ankle monitor is on the wrong foot.
Most monitors aren’t that helpful. Some are simple radio transmitters linked to a receiver in the suspect’s home. When the person moves out of range, a monitoring service is notified the person is no longer where they should be. But, not where they are.
Canada is a world leader in tech, telecommunications and artificial intelligence. Surely, we can put some of our high-performance brains to work on this problem.
Companies routinely set up electronic “geo-fences” — inside a shopping district, for example — and target cellphones within that area for specific advertising messages. A few steps outside the zone, you get nothing. The tech involved is routine.
We can do the same for those on bail or house arrest. A cellular SIM card in a hardened case securely attached to a person’s leg, could tell a central server exactly where it is at any time. The GPS driving app Waze works this way — although it’s not locked to your leg. When it crosses a boundary, authorities could be alerted.
Modern AI could detect unusual movements, predict a user’s destination when a monitor is disabled, or alert when two or more violent offenders meet, etc.
This wouldn’t be cheap. But, it’s surely cheaper than investigating, prosecuting, trying and incarcerating someone who commits a second murder while on bail for the first one.
As a fiscal conservative, I want government to spend on this technology to make Canadians safer.
The feds could fund the research and set up monitoring centres across the country. Provinces could buy the hardware.
Slap one of these monitors on everyone released on bail for violent offences … or on house arrest … or on parole from prison … or away from hospital on a temporary pass while NCR.
I know I’d sleep a lot more soundly at night.