PEI

Police want to use technology to watch Confederation Bridge

Police presented at legislative committee to talk about drugs and crime and ways to fight the problems.

'The Confederation Bridge is the pipeline of drugs to our province'

Police say access to video cameras on the Confederation Bridge should give them a strategic advantage. (Laura Meader/CBC News)

Police are calling the Confederation Bridge the pipeline for drugs to P.E.I. when they presented to a legislative committee Tuesday.

The PEI Association of Chiefs of Police are asking for better access to video camera technology to watch the traffic on the bridge so they can crack down on criminals using the bridge. 

"It's no secret, certainly to law enforcement, that the Confederation Bridge is the pipeline of drugs to our province, we have to use technology more effectively," said Brad MacConnell, deputy chief of Charlottetown Police Services.

"We know that large quantities of drugs and other illegal commodities come over the bridge."

MacConnell was presenting to the committee on behalf of the police association. 

Brad MacConnell, Deputy Chief of Charlottetown Police Services says police need access to video cameras on the Confederation Bridge to help stop illegal drugs from being brought to P.E.I. (Laura Meader/CBC News)

Video could identify persons of interest

MacConnell said spending money on police watching the bridge doesn't make sense when cameras could allow police to identify suspect vehicles.

In his presentation to a legislative committee he said most of the drugs on the Island can be traced back to organized crime in Quebec who often use rental vehicles. The top three drugs being brought in are marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine pills. 

"There are license plate recognition cameras at the Confederation Bridge now that are used for tourism related things," said MacConnell. "Police need access to these."

Evidence put on display from an RCMP drug bust. (CBC News)

Fighting crime early 

MacConnell said police do use bridge footage now but largely after a crime has happened. He said if police were alerted right away when vehicles of interest cross the bridge it would help fight crime.

"When we have real time information coming into us, alerting us of potential persons of interest … it is a huge strategic advantage to us," he said. 

MacConnell told the committee there was one group police identified as crossing the bridge every four days with large quantities of drugs.

"That was alarming to us, that's only one group." he said. "Many different people traffic drugs into the island."

The legislative committee is expected to submit its findings from the police presentation and submit a report to the P.E.I. Legislature. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Meader is a video journalist for CBC P.E.I.

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