March 6, 2009

I teach electrical engineering at University of Toronto.

While walking on a public sidewalk, I noticed a dangerous electrical situation, which was also an electrical code violation, in particular, a violation of Section 66, Part 450 of the Electrical Code.

I happened to have a camera in my pocket, so I took it out to get a video of the violation (a still-picture alone would not have proven that the generator was running, but the video shows that, we can hear the sound of the electrical generator running, along with other evidence of the code violation).

While documenting this situation, and tracing the wire, a police officer physically assaulted me, and grabbed my camera out of my hand. Since I had the wrist strap on, my right hand was injured.

I informed the officer exactly my reason for shooting the video, and I asked him to speak to his superiour or a sargeant. It turned out that a sargeant happened to be in the area already and was nearby, and had seen what was happening, and began to walk over.

Before the sargeant could get to me, the officer tried to force open the bottom hatch of my camera where the memory card was. The officer was not able to get the memory card out. There's a special little lever you need to push to open the hatch and the officer did not know how to open it but he managed to break my camera while trying to force it open.

After the officer was unable to break open the camera, he started pushing various buttons on the camera, and ended up turning it off, causing the video file to end or be corrupted.

Code violation:

Here is photograhic evidence of the electrical code violation; it's particularly evident near the end of the video where you can see people walking over live wires (individual conductors of a 3-phase electrical distribution system) where the wires from separate phases are neither in a cable (which would cancel out the magnetic fields between them), nor are they protected by a safety guard as required by the Electrical Code:
Glogger Video

Physical assault, etc.:

I tried to get a video of the electrical power generator (we can hear it running in the video), but was physically assaulted while following the wire from the generator source:
Glogger Video

Previous experiences:

By-the-way, I was injured (almost electrocuted) on a public walkway by a similar situation on another film set last year, and I still have scars and lasting damage from the electrical fault.

This is a real problem that nobody seems to want to take notice of.

More generally...

Also, more generally, there's a potential conflict-of-interest:

Film crews hire police to be present in public spaces where they setup high voltage electrical wiring.

In this case the officer broke the law while trying to destroy evidence of a crime perpetrated by the people that hired him.

Thoughts, ideas? I can be reached at 416.946-3387, or interdepartmental mail, 10 King's College Road, Mailstop SFB540, University of Toronto Department of Electrical Engineering.

What can be done to increase public safety and prevent such potential conflicts-of-interest?