Prof downplays police concern over name tags

Dozens of Canada’s 250-plus police forces require members to wear name tags, which policy advocates say deters police abuse by making it easy for citizens to report misdeeds but which critics argue gives criminal gangs an edge in an age when most home addresses and phone numbers are only mouse clicks away, reported the Toronto Star Sept. 8. A long-time advocate of the name-tag policy for Toronto says objections are spurious. Political scientist Harvey Simmons did a survey of the issue in the 10 most dangerous cities in the US, including New York, Detroit, Miami and Chicago. All, he said, require their officers to wear name tags. “All police officers have to do is take their names out of the phone book,” said Simmons, a retired York professor. “[Safety] doesn’t seem to be a serious concern.”

Toronto to spend gas-tax money on transit

The $24.45 million presented to Toronto Mayor David Miller Wednesday is the first instalment of federal gas-tax money that Ottawa has agreed to turn over to Toronto and other cities for environmentally sustainable projects. Toronto will spend it on public transit, reported the Toronto Star Sept. 8. Toronto’s total over the first five years will be $407.3 million, plus $197 million expected to be doled out over two years as a result of an NDP-Liberal amendment to the federal budget. The Toronto Transit Commission plans to buy hundreds of buses, subway cars and streetcars with the help of provincial and federal funds.

“The TTC has an ambitious plan to expand using buses and streetcar right-of-ways,” Miller said after receiving the cheque. Extending the subway to York University is desirable, but the $1.5-billion price tag is an obstacle, he said. “We would like to do that; it’s important, but we have to take care of the system we have first,” he said. “Then we have to expand where we can using buses and streetcars, and then subways. Those are the priorities.”

In related news:

  • Miller said while a plan to extend the Spadina subway line to York is undergoing an environmental assessment, no cash has been allotted, reported The Toronto Sun Sept. 8.
  • Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara said York’s Keele campus will become a primary hub for a better transit system for the Greater Toronto Area, reported CFRB-AM News in Toronto Sept. 7.

On air

  • Brendan Quine, a professor of space and planetary physics in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, discussed how the next generation of smaller satellite technology developed at the Institute for Aerospace Studies will mean greater ease of launch, on CP24-TV’s “Home Page” Sept. 7.
  • Rob Tiffin, York vice-president students, discussed university acceptance requirements, on City-tv’s “CityNews at Six” Sept. 7.