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City needs better rules for handling surveillance video, city manager says

When Lloyd Ferguson pushed Joey Coleman, the city only saved 15 seconds of surveillance video. The city needs a policy for how it saves video, the city manager says, as well as for other safety concerns.
This screen shot from the city hall surveillance video shows Coun. Lloyd Ferguson and Joey Coleman before a media conference. The city will likely look into establishing a formal policy around safety and surveillance video.

Hamilton's city manager admits that the city has some work to do on security in the wake of the release of a brief, grainy surveillance video of a city councillor shoving an independent journalist.

Chris Murray says there's no set procedure in place for saving surveillance video. In fact, there's no security protocol at all for when an extreme incident happens.

City council will debate on Dec. 9 whether to establish a security protocol that includes how surveillance video is saved. Murray says the city needs one.

"We need a clear procedure in how we deal with surveillance video," he said.

And even more, "I'm looking forward to a chance to get in front of council to talk about security in general."

The move comes after a much-discussed February 2014 incident between Coun. Lloyd Ferguson of Ancaster and Joey Coleman, a local independent journalist who live streams city hall meetings.

Ferguson pushed Coleman after a council meeting. Coleman accepted Ferguson's apology the next day, but also asked that city hall save the surveillance video in case of future investigations.

The incident led to a police investigation — no charges were laid — and a maligned integrity commissioner report. This month, Ferguson withdrew an appeal to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, effectively allowing the release of the surveillance video.

The city released 15 seconds of footage that Coleman and a former councillor who witnessed the incident say doesn't show the entire exchange. Three other witnesses — and city officials involved in saving the video — say it does.

When asked if the city should have done anything differently with the video, "that's what we're looking at right now," Murray said. And if city council chooses, he'll report back on it.

"I don't want to get ahead of myself in terms of what we'd do differently, but clearly having a really clear procedure to deal with surveillance video in general is important for this organization."

Matthew Green, Ward 3 councillor, prompted looking into the security issue. It's not necessarily about that one incident, he said, but about any situation where security or surveillance video is required.

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