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  • Using Video Recorders on Client's Property. Any Problems?

    Hello,

    I am new to the forum so pardon me if this has been asked a million times already .

    I have a few clients’ sites where I want to start video recording criminal behavior, or behavior that could LEAD to crimes. I want to know if this is legal in California on property that I am contracted to protect. I have done it as a *sub contractor* for other larger Corporations to gain PI experience but I am not a licensed PI yet. However, we were doing this subcontracting work as “Security Officers” during Labor Strike Forces and all videos were legal and went to court to try to get injunctions on illegal picketing at that site.

    My question is, is this legal for myself or my guards to do without violating anyone’s rights? California is the “sue happy” state and so I want to cover all legal bases. Below are a few scenarios on how the recorders would be used. FYI, I am the licensed , insured and registered owner of the company asking the question and wanting to implement the idea.

    Example 1:

    I have two armed uniformed guards in a restaurant in California and during the bar rush it can get ugly at times. Racial slurs, threats of violence and mayhem and sometimes even threats to incite a riot. Another common ploy is for customers to claim that their rights were violated (often mentioning discrimination lawsuits even though they are intoxicated and out of control) and when LE comes it’s usually our word against theirs and the suspects are just sent on their way only to return on day shift to complain to Management etc. I am considering putting a hand held video recorder on site for special situations. After the events it is always a we said this, they said that scenario to the client and LE. I know that the video and audio would be an easy way to tell both law enforcement and the client the true story and would really help me in several ways.

    Example #2. I am working a shopping center and suspects are on site refusing to leave and breaking windows and doing burn outs in the lot. (I won't even get into local law enforcement response time to not life threatening events during bar rush time during this post but let's just say it's not an option to catch them in the act.) So I am now observing vandalism and trespassing at a minimum and I begin recording it all including people, cars and license plates. I know this would really help me and the client would LOVE it but before I implement the program on certain sites I thought I would research the legalities of it. My common sense says it is fully legal but I want to know if anyone can foresee any problems I might be able to avoid. All of us are fully armed with escalation of force equipment and training if it should come to that and of course safety would always come first!

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by PM Protection; 12-29-2007, 02:49 PM.
    Sincerely,

    www.pmprotection.com
    PM Protection Private Security & Executive Protection

  • #2
    FWIW, couple bars I go to do exactly that for every ejection from the bar... buddy of mine was too lit, spilled a drink on the dance floor... here comes the goon squad, 5 bouncers 1 trailing with a videocamera... they had videotaped before they even entered the area, and the subsequent "out the door with you"

    Saves money when that drunk takes a dive outside the bar, tries to sue, and you have video showing he didn't have a shiner when he left the bar so he must have gotten it outside the bar...
    Overmotivated and Underpaid... I'm a Security supervisors wet dream...

    Comment


    • #3
      $200 US is what I saw a SONY tape based camcorder for sale this week but in reality $200.00 is basically the cost of a lawyer so is petty cash compared to a law suit. Not sure how you go with legalities - as in the posting signs of a video recording system inside the premises.

      1 do know of 1 club in Sydney who spent more on CCTV than they did on the lighting systems because of liabilities and insurance claims that were well known from the previous operators. 1 thing is, any video camera is useless if it struggles in low light. I recall my very early days in security taking patrons down fire-stairs as the 1 lift operating could be full of patrons from the restaurant and CCTV was just a dream back then.
      "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by PM Protection View Post
        Hello,

        I am new to the forum so pardon me if this has been asked a million times already .

        I have a few clients’ sites where I want to start video recording criminal behavior, or behavior that could LEAD to crimes. I want to know if this is legal in California on property that I am contracted to protect. I have done it as a *sub contractor* for other larger Corporations to gain PI experience but I am not a licensed PI yet. However, we were doing this subcontracting work as “Security Officers” during Labor Strike Forces and all videos were legal and went to court to try to get injunctions on illegal picketing at that site.

        My question is, is this legal for myself or my guards to do without violating anyone’s rights? California is the “sue happy” state and so I want to cover all legal bases. Below are a few scenarios on how the recorders would be used. FYI, I am the licensed , insured and registered owner of the company asking the question and wanting to implement the idea.

        Example 1:

        I have two armed uniformed guards in a restaurant in California and during the bar rush it can get ugly at times. Racial slurs, threats of violence and mayhem and sometimes even threats to incite a riot. Another common ploy is for customers to claim that their rights were violated (often mentioning discrimination lawsuits even though they are intoxicated and out of control) and when LE comes it’s usually our word against theirs and the suspects are just sent on their way only to return on day shift to complain to Management etc. I am considering putting a hand held video recorder on site for special situations. After the events it is always a we said this, they said that scenario to the client and LE. I know that the video and audio would be an easy way to tell both law enforcement and the client the true story and would really help me in several ways.

        Example #2. I am working a shopping center and suspects are on site refusing to leave and breaking windows and doing burn outs in the lot. (I won't even get into local law enforcement response time to not life threatening events during bar rush time during this post but let's just say it's not an option to catch them in the act.) So I am now observing vandalism and trespassing at a minimum and I begin recording it all including people, cars and license plates. I know this would really help me and the client would LOVE it but before I implement the program on certain sites I thought I would research the legalities of it. My common sense says it is fully legal but I want to know if anyone can foresee any problems I might be able to avoid. All of us are fully armed with escalation of force equipment and training if it should come to that and of course safety would always come first!

        Thoughts?
        Paul - we're not lawyers here, and you're asking about an area of law that is in a high state of flux, i.e. privacy rights. Can a property owner use video technologies on his own property? The broad answer is "Yes, but not without restrictions".

        You acknowledge that California is a very litigious environment, and the best way to CYA is to seek legal counsel before, not after, you initiate programs that present any measurable legal risk to your company.
        "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

        Comment


        • #5
          An option to consider is the VIDMiC. If you are within the law and company policy, I suggest looking into it. They run about $700, but how much with that "he said/she said" lawsuit cost you? I plan on ordering one soon...

          http://www.qualitywireless.com/VIDMIC.php
          "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

          Comment


          • #6
            Check with your company's legal department first and hopefully they will check with competent jurisdictional legalists on the proper use and installation of CCTV, placement and wording of required signage. Legalists should also mandate time period recorded material must be maintained and where.
            Now comes the real challenge, keeping the system up and running and running well. Ensure all your equipment is buffered by quality power conditioning equipment and have property management conduct electrical grounding and bonding surveys. Don't be surprised if you see their eyes glaze over when you make this request. I stress the latter portion because of singed tail feathers.
            Regardless of the temptation, never install dummy cameras. You'll loose more than just tail feathers, it will be the part those feathers are attached to.
            Enjoy the day,
            Bill

            Comment


            • #7
              All premises in Sydney, Australia with CCTV must display notices and advise staff at their entrance as well as public entrances - this includes night clubs too. It ensures that people know that as a condition of entry they are going to be filmed SOMEWHERE inside the premises. Not sure about the USA rules and regs but I think if there was a notice posted it would reduce any issues with privacy but again each state, county and town could be different of course.

              If I wanted to introduce CCTV into a workplace, I have to give the staff 2 weeks notice (last place I did this we did it on the 2 week shutdown which upset the unions and stopped people stealing the company blind in those 2 weeks off). No covert CCTV is permitted without a Judge's consent and you need a valid reason plus 30 days to conduct your investigation before your permit expires.
              "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

              Comment


              • #8
                In California, it is a felony to record someone speaking (their voice) if there is an expectation of privacy, and they don't know they are being recorded.

                It is not a violation if you tell them, and they tell you not to record them, but you do anyway. Just make sure you get it on tape that they are being recorded (by you loudly stating they are being recorded), and if they don't say anything, so be it. But if they start takling sometime later again tell them they are being recorded, and if they continue talking, you should state that they are being recorded every minute or so, so hopefully they won't try to say you secretly recorded them.

                For your info, this section applies to phone conversations, and face to face meetings.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thank you for all the great answers everyone.

                  On the first scenario at the restaurant they DO have signage that you are being recorded upon entry (at the only entrance doors) but the cameras are worthless and there isn't *any* audio. Furthermore the *exterior* cameras are, well, worthless at night and that is where I would be mainly using them, on private property I am contracted to protect. So I was simply going to provide my own video camera WITH AUDIO primarily for interior incidents that spill outside but there will be times when trespassers just come on to the site looking for trouble, but never enter. My Post Orders clearly state that I am to patrol the exterior too and the Client has dome cameras on the roofs that are antiquated, again, no audio either there outside. So lets say that a fight breaks out inside the restaurant and we (security follow them out and begin recording them smashing windows while announcing every 15 seconds, " This is being recorded as evidence” , and give the date , time and location. They have left the building, does the signage still apply?

                  Here is another scenario that will no doubt occur if I implement this. I am on patrol in a clearly marked security vehicle and come across a trespasser on one of the sites I patrol. He is cutting into expensive copper wire to steal it, causing thousands of dollars of damage and I record the entire act while announcing my presence in uniform and after gathering evidence and notifying LE, I commence to go and CA him/her (if safe to do so.) Then turn him over to LE with a CA (Citizen Arrest) Form and the tape of the evidence.

                  Violation of his rights or…. implied public area and no rights to privacy are implied to the suspect?

                  To be clear I am not in any way asking for any binding legal advice, I am merely gathering the opinions of seasoned professionals to see if this is worth pursuing with my legal Dept and implementing as policy and will form my own decision.

                  P.S. Thanks for the link on the VIDMiC.
                  Sincerely,

                  www.pmprotection.com
                  PM Protection Private Security & Executive Protection

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Due to our privacy laws we are NOT permitted to record any audio on a CCTV camera but I do know of a friend who began recording his ex's new b/f and did tell him he was being recorded before dropping the camcorder which recorded every thing audio wise and a bit of biffo when the b/f attacked my friend. Being an ex LEO he knew to voice everything as "please don't hit me again" which the camera recorded the followup action to.

                    Our police (only state) are supposed to be getting the new vests with the recording devices like the UK police use in high risk areas - but I may be dead before it ever happens.
                    "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It's a great idea!

                      Yes, I feel you have a great idea about the camera use, so you should contact your legal dept and find out how they want you to do the set up (any extra signs, ect) prior to any incident, and how to proceed during any incident.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bpdblue View Post
                        Yes, I feel you have a great idea about the camera use, so you should contact your legal dept and find out how they want you to do the set up (any extra signs, ect) prior to any incident, and how to proceed during any incident.
                        bpdblue I continue to be amazed at the lack of coordination between various departments in organizations, large or small. When you delve into the matter you find a darth of information on coordination. Digging deeper you learn of "informal" or "verbal approval" which variably was misunderstood or misinterpreted by the security department. I hammer away with the constant theme: "every legal decision is clearly written easliy understood by the least educated member in the security department." Some legal departments have flat stated they do not issue written opinions on such matters for fear of being wrong or being critized by upper management (leadership.) For this intransigence, I place blame at the feet or door of senior most person in the organization. I hope I'm mature and seasoned enough to understand it is harder to get competent legal personnel that it is to get "competent" security warm bodies.
                        Enjoy the day and Happy New Year,
                        Bill

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Just speaking from my companies S.O.P., it is punishable by termination if any personnel uses any recording device without an executive from the company giving permission. This doesnt apply if the contract wants things taped, like having a DVR in a contract provided car or cameras on the property but an individual officer carrying any type of recording device is a huge thing for us.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bill Warnock View Post
                            Check with your company's legal department first and hopefully they will check with competent jurisdictional legalists on the proper use and installation of CCTV, placement and wording of required signage. Legalists should also mandate time period recorded material must be maintained and where.
                            Now comes the real challenge, keeping the system up and running and running well. Ensure all your equipment is buffered by quality power conditioning equipment and have property management conduct electrical grounding and bonding surveys. Don't be surprised if you see their eyes glaze over when you make this request. I stress the latter portion because of singed tail feathers.
                            Regardless of the temptation, never install dummy cameras. You'll loose more than just tail feathers, it will be the part those feathers are attached to.
                            Enjoy the day,
                            Bill
                            Excellent points, Bill. It cannot be stressed enough that once you DO start recording, you will be expected to be able to PRODUCE recordings if they are subpoenaed in a legal action. It will not satisfy the courts to come back and say "We don't have them". (The CIA is now embroiled in potential criminal liabilities for having destroyed recordings, but it is no better to say you lost them or never archived them, either.)

                            In other words, you can't just start recording. You will need policies and procedures, as well as the necessary equipment, for capturing and archiving the recordings, including the ability to index, search and retrieve recordings if they should be demanded in a legal action. I would not be surprised if your corporate attorney told you that you would need to save recordings for as long as 5 to 7 years.

                            With the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley and other similar laws in recent years, all entities that use electronic means to record, communicate, or capture information - whether it's by email, instant messaging, Web forums, video, etc. - are required to archive and, if necessary, produce such information. This is a very big deal in the legal world now, and if you will search the phrase "electronic discovery" on Google you'll see the enormous amount of literature and conversation that is going on about this subject. You'll have no trouble finding 1000-page legal tomes that have been published on electronic discovery - i.e., how the lawyer should advise his corporate client on saving information, and, on the other side, how the laywer should file demands for discovery, how to find what he needs in massive piles of electronic data that the demand will produce, etc. Big, big area of law now.
                            Last edited by SecTrainer; 01-03-2008, 08:31 AM.
                            "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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              SarbOx scares the hell out of me, and if you're a small business owner, it should scare the hell out of you, too.

                              I do not know if there is a "small business" exemption from it. I don't believe there is. As SecTrainer said, are you prepared to answer a subpoena for emails? Or your internal forums? Or voice mails?

                              Related, someone successfully got RAM (Computer Memory) admissible. As in, you need to produce a snapshot of your computer's RAM. In that case, it was against a file sharing group (A torrent site) that tried to get around the reporting requirements by simply never saving anything to disk. So, the RIAA and MPAA's lawyers said, "Fine, we want the data in the RAM!"

                              Did I mention that electronic discovery scares the hell out of me, simply because of how much crap you have to keep around, in archival quality formats, till the end of time?
                              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

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