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Monitoring S/Os via CCTV cameras

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  • Monitoring S/Os via CCTV cameras

    I have an ethical question for you administrators out there that I would appreciate advice on. My site is in the process of installing CCTV cameras at my site and they will have WiFi capabilities which will allow my client and myself to log on to any Internet capable computer and monitor our cameras. My S/Os are calling it "Big Brother" and say they are "being spied on" by management. They feel I do not having the right to use camera footage against them, because that is not the intended purpose of the system. My personal opinion on this is that the CCTV cameras were placed to monitor the activities at the mall and to catch people doing things they're not supposed to. S/Os have the advantage over the public of knowing the location and target of the cameras and if they still make a choice to goof off or otherwise commit acts they know will get them in trouble, then that's on them for doing it on camera and I, as an administrator, have every right to use the camera footage against them. I figure cameras keep the honest people honest and the culprits will find other places to hide to take their nap, extra coffee break, etc. But am I wrong to use tools at my disposal to monitor the actions of my own officers? I'm not talking about constantly watching them like "Big Brother" or anything, just in cases where I suspect something or to verify a statement being made i.e. the way an incident went down, etc. Please let me know what you think about this.
    The law is reason free from passion." -- Aristotle

  • #2
    Make sure you account for this in your policy/procedure manual. The intended purposes you state would not be different than any other mall that uses video for surveillance. The mall needs to provide proper signing throughout the mall informing patrons.
    Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
    Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

    Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference


    • #3
      Your security officers sound like they enjoy the fact that management cannot see them while they are patrolling. Considering that the entire mall can, this idea is irrational.
      Some Kind of Commando Leader

      "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law


      • #4
        Proper utilization of a CCTV system depends upon the manner management approaches the subject and uses the system. It is certainly not unheard of for members of management to use such systems to spy on their s/o's and other employee's, so their concerns are valid. And let's be truthful here in that when having the ability to access CCTV systems by the web, there is a likelihood that, like any new toy, you may very well turn on the computer to see what the s/o's are up to - it's human nature to do this. How you approach the subject and handle yourself in the process will mean the difference between getting your s/o's on board with you or ultimately tearing apart moral and that you cannot aford to do.


        • #5
          Thanks for posting this request!
          As Curtis mentioned it is important to install properly worded warning signs posted as one first enters the property under surveillance. To be on firm legal grounds, get a written opinion from your legal counsel as to their usage and all is in conformance with existing laws, rules and regulations.
          Ask the all important question, should or must signage be bilingual or multilingual depending upon your population mix.
          As Nathan pointed out, the guards should be estatic over the installation of these cameras as a tool working on their behalf. It could prove beneficial to them so as to avoid disputes as to who did what and when and not degenerate into "he said - she said." If they are assaulted and the incident is
          caught on a recording it could be a "slam dunk" for them.
          Read well Chris' response, take it to heart.
          Remember well the conditioned response syndrome caused by personnel monitoring screens for more than 20-25 minutes at a time. If there are long periods of inactivity they will be conditioned to see no activity. Both NBFAA and DoD have conducted and published studies concerning these phenomena.
          Enjoy the day,


          • #6
            I agree with all of the above. As for the S/O's talking about "big brother". Utilized correctly the CCTV system is a tool. As with ALL banks, most convenience stores, etc. CCTV is everywhere. The S/O's should not have a problem with it. It probably will make them safer. If there is a confrontation, back up can be alerted to the situation by radio in real time and not have to go blindly into it.


            • #7
              I agree with Nathan... They already have hundreds of eyes on them, so why are they worried about a few more "digital eyes"? If they are doing their jobs, they should have absolutely nothing to worry about.
              "To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill." Sun-Tzu


              • #8
                Originally posted by davis002 View Post
                I agree with Nathan... They already have hundreds of eyes on them, so why are they worried about a few more "digital eyes"? If they are doing their jobs, they should have absolutely nothing to worry about.
                Agreed. Alamedaad, I think you have done a good job describing the symptoms, but just what is the root cause of their unease. If CCTV installation is explained as mentioned by others, a tool, a force multiplier to enhance their capabilities then disdain should go away. Also as previously mentioned, their dispatch to a trouble spot under surveillance will preclude one or more of them from walking into a potential trap. Please be advised that constant communications between the responding force and monitoring location is necessary and practice exercises will cause them to better appreciate this new tool.
                Enjoy the day,


                • #9
                  Originally posted by davis002 View Post
                  If they are doing their jobs, they should have absolutely nothing to worry about.
                  See, I do not agree with this analogy because it invalidates what may very well be extremely valid concerns, for example. If you have a member of management that picks at everything an s/o does, then yes, a system of this type is bound to make the s/o's uneasy and their concerns should not be invalidated with this "throw it in your face" type of response.


                  • #10
                    Where will the camera be located? I like the idea of when dealing with less than ideal individuals, I can point to and remind them of being watched/recorded.

                    Be sure any time stamping is accurate.

                    People for the most part do not accept change easily, just explain the realities of today.
                    Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.
                    Groucho Marx


                    • #11
                      The CCTV cameras in one of the anchor stores are set up behind the registers to catch the employees. They arent P/T/Z either.

                      The CCTV cameras in the mall common are P/T/Z and I have used them to monitor Security Officers. This helps especially if I am doing any investigation. Cameras are also on Security Officers when they have anything of value they are taking to Lost and Found, escorts of any kind, etc. If they mess around and its on camera, shame on them. We have 4 monitors with 2 controllers in our dispatch center and the management office has 1 monitor with a controller. The one in the management office is hooked up to the same cameras we watch but they mainly use it to monitor the tenants and kiosks. Thats not so say they cant see us with 2 cameras being in the Security Office (1 in the general work area and 1 in the Dispatch center).
                      "I am not a hero. I am a silent guardian, a watchful protector"


                      • #12
                        This isn't even the "new reality". Cops have been working under the "eye" of car cams for years, and security officers have been working under store cameras for longer than that. Employers have been using network sniffers and other technologies to monitor employee use of computers, phones, etc. for years. It's estimated that if you go downtown shopping for the day, you'll be recorded by more than 100 cameras. There's nothing new about this situation whatsoever.

                        The greatest benefit of these cams, for police or security officers, is the prevention of false claims of officer misconduct. Most cops wouldn't have it any other way now - except, of course, for those who have been caught doing something they shouldn't.

                        The greatest concern for the SO, assuming he is carrying out his mission and following company policies and procedures as he should, is false claims made against him by citizens. It will only take one officer being cleared of such a claim by the video evidence gathered by cameras to make your SO's thrilled to have this technology on their side - which is how they will see it when and if that happens.

                        The second big benefit, of course, is proof of criminal activity by patrons and/or other employees in the event of an arrest, dismissal, etc. SO's should also welcome that sort of backup.

                        People who use terms such as "spying", especially with reference to cameras that everyone knows about (non-covert) and can see by merely glancing around, either suffer from linguistic imprecision or are carelessly using terms with negative connotations to describe perfectly ethical activities. Not infrequently, they have a history of poor relationships with their employers.

                        "Spying", "spy" and "spycraft" are terms that have fairly precise meanings, and hanging cameras around in plain view for God and all the world to see ain't it. Oversight by overt means that employees know about can never constitute "spying". It might constitute ethical issues such as invasion of privacy if improperly done, but that still isn't "spying". These people are using "spying" in the same way that a child would use it when his mother walks into the kitchen and finds him with his hand in the cookie jar. "Are you SPYING on me?", he asks petulantly. "Sure I am", says Mom. "Hence my disguise as a banana. Wanna see my CIA credentials?"
                        Last edited by SecTrainer; 05-22-2007, 05:42 PM.
                        "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                        "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                        "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                        "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron


                        • #13
                          I was in a situation where an official had problems with "his" security system being put on the network and viewed outside of "his" building. To me this is very similar to the SO who is antsy about big brother looking over his shoulder. I'm sure they were both responding to the same concerns - a DVR forgets nothing (well, at least until the HD overwrites the data). I have found that when responding to these concerns the response be framed in a manner which illustrates how this can be for their protection and not damnation. As was mentioned earlier, once an SO (or whoever) is a beneficiary of recorded video, their tune will change real fast. As SecTrainer pointed out, the police have known this for a long time.


                          • #14
                            After reading an article in a popular LE magazine, I've given some thought about purchasing a high res digital camera to have at hand while on duty for documentation purposes in areas with no CCTV coverage. Definitely in the officer's interest to cover their ass.
                            sigpicMy ideal security vehicle and uniforms:


                            • #15
                              I always made it a point to check all my sites from home before hanging it up for the night. I always made a call to the buildings if I saw one of my officers doing something right or wrong. This showed that I could be watching at any time and had the desired effect on those officers that tended to slack off when management was not around.

                              It also helped when my officers were doing thier job and had accusations of misconduct leveled against them. I can think of two occasions that vindicated an officer that would have faced stiff disciplinary action had that extra eye not been there.