Surveillance Camera News

(assorted press releases and news items May 2000) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ A picture of profiling REPUTABLE RETAIL STORES ARE SOMETIMES HIT WITH potentially costly lawsuits in which a customer charges that store security used racial profiling in determining whom to monitor on surveillance cameras. These allegations typically are made in the course of wrongful detainment suits involving minorities who may or may not have shoplifted merchandise. In these cases, the plaintiff's attorney will obtain surveillance videotape during discovery, and in viewing the video, the lawyer will perceive that minorities are selected as surveillance subjects in disproportionate numhers as compared to the racial makeup of the store's population of shoppers. WHEN SUCH CLAIMS are made, even retailers with outstanding antidiscrimination policies and practices may consider quietly settling the suit, particularly when the plaintiffs attorney threatens to take the allegations to the media and damage the reputation of the business. These settlements, which may be in the range of $100,000, may seem an easy way to end a lawsuit, but submitting to such tactics is a mistake that implies guilt and encourages litigation in the future. Companies that have wrongfully been accused of racial profiling should fight the charges in court. To do this efFectively, the corporate security manager must give defense attorneys a crash course in surveillance operations so that the company's lawyers know how security officers choose their targets and why the plaintiff may have been monitored while in the store. Defense attorneys essentially need to understand that no one can ascertain why a particular person is the subject of surveillance simply by viewing a few hours of the store's security tapes. Seeing is misleading. Despite the wellworn "truths" about pictures, such as "seeing is believing," and "pictures don't lie,' a portion of surveillance videotape taken out of context can be misleading. Yet in many racial profiling cases, the plaintiffs central evidence is videotape of a store's surveillance activities. And these seemingly damning images are given added impact when backed up by testimony from a security expert. But these so-called experts (in one case, such an "expert" turned out to be a law clerk) have typically done nothing more than view the store's video, count the persons subjectively judged to be surveillance subjects, and list the percentage of subjects by race. There are several problems with using video as evidence of profiling. Security should make sure that the company's defense attorneys are aware of each of these so that the defense team can help jurors see the real picture. First, experts for the plaintiff often fail to note any criteria they used in identifying subjects. For example, in one case, a plaintiffs expert counted any minority captured on tape, even those who might have been caught in the background while the cameras focused on a white suspect. In another case, security was monitoring the activity of one African American male who was standing near three other minorities. The plaintiffs expert counted all four men as under surveillance, thus boosting the ratio of minorities who appear to have been monitored by store security. Second, a general review of a few hours of videotape is not statistically significant and cannot validly be used to draw any conclusions. The reviewer has no way of knowing why someone might have been targeted in the first place-the person might have put something in his or her pocket just before security began recording, for instance. The security manager should explain to the defense attorney how the typical central station operates. It may be helpful for the attorney to tour the store's monitoring station to see how and why certain people are targeted. For example, in a typical large department store, the central station security officer must continuously monitor between Zo and 30 small monitors at one time. One or two larger monitors are used to view and record only the highest priority events. In most cases, a person creating suspicion is first detected on one of the small monitors, which are not recorded. By the time the officer switches the image to the larger monitor and begins recording, the subject may no longer be acting suspiciously. Without understanding this normal situation, defense attorneys themselves often cannot understand why innocent-appearing persons were selected as surveillance subjects. They may erroneously believe the plaintifF has some legitimate grounds for the suit, and rather than mounting an aggressive defense, they may suggest a setdement. Once the defense attorneys understand how security surveillance works, they will be better able to challenge the veracity of any expert who claims to be able to interpret such a video on a standalone basis. Third, it's important for the defense attorney (and ultimately the jury to know that it is difficult for an officer to even identify the race of a person on the monitor. An officer who is watching zo to 30 seven- to nine-inch monitors-which are producing 36,000 to to 54,000 images per minute-is quickly scanning images for red flags. Officers can barely see an individual's skin color on these small monitors, but instead are focusing on the activity of the person-did the subject put something in his or her pocket, for example. Security should also point out to the defense attorney that the person on the videotape is not necessarily the individual under surveillance. For example, the camera might be faced on an employee suspected of theft, not the customer who happens to be standing near the employee; or the camera might be focused on an area into which the true suspect is expected to enter. Selecting subjects. Defense attorneys and juries must also understand the criteria officers use to determine who is monitored. An overview of the typical criteria follows. Sensitive areas. Retail surveillance of ficers are trained to automatically monitor any customer who goes into a high-risk area, such as the department that sells expensive and readily concealable electronic merchandise, as long as there are no higher priority activities occurring elsewhere in the store. Officers will also monitor customers who are shopping in parts of the store that have experienced excessive losses in recent weeks. In many cases, the plaintiffs expert does not know that a certain department has experienced shrinkage in recent weeks, leading security to tape everyone who goes into the department. Instead, this expert draws conclusions that his or her client was monitored because of race. By understanding why security is targeting a specific area of the store, the defense attorney can more effectively challenge the plaintiff expert's conclusions. Known problems. Retail security of$cers will routinely monitor and tape customers who have caused problems in the store in the recent past. For example, individuals who are monitored might have been previously apprehended in the store for shoplifting, or they might have engaged in suspicious activity during previous visits. In other cases, security might closely monitor a former employee who left under bad circumstances or an ofF duty current employee who is under investigation. An on-duty employee might be under surveillance because of complaints of discourtesy or abusiveness toward customers. In many cases in which employees are under surveillance, customers will be caught on tape inadvertently. The defense attorney must know that it is not the customer who is being monitored-as the plaintiff might claim-- but the employee. Retail security officers will also monitor customers who match the description of a person who has reportedly caused problems at neighboring retail establishments. For example, security often receives reports from other retailers or the police about individuals who have committed crimes in the neighborhood. Police sketches or verbal descriptions usually accompany these reports so that security can be on the lookout for this individual should he or she enter the store. Security may also get reports from other merchants during community meetings. The person under surveillance may also match the description of someone the loss prevention department has been asked to look out for, such as a stalker or an estranged spouse or partner of an employee. Suspicious activity. A person may also become the subject of surveillance if they trigger certain red flags. For example, officers will take notice of a customer who enters the store from a parking lot area carrying a bag bearing the store's name or logo. The person might not be acting suspiciously, but experience tells the security officer that the bag could be used for shoplifting or other theft schemes. For instance, a person might fill the bag with items off the store shelves, claim to have purchased the merchandise during a previous visit, and try to return the items for cash at the customer service counter. Security will be similarly watchful of anyone entering the store with other items that could conceal merchandise, such as a backpack, a large purse, bulky clothing, or a stroller. Security is also trained to keep an eye out for individuals who display the body language of a person contemplating shoplifting, such as continuously looking around to see whether they are being watched or toying with a piece of merchandise for a long period of time. Other individuals come under surveillance because they act in a manner that is highly unusual to loss prevention professionals, but would not appear unusual to the uninitiated. For example, security would take notice of a man who is viewing female wallets, or they may monitor a customer who appears to be acting dif ferently after carrying an item out of view and returning without it. Communication from staff. The store's sales personnel are also trained to look for anyone who might trigger any of these red flags and to report their suspicions to the monitoring station. Similarly, sales personnel will report customers suspected of credit card fraud, which would make them a subject of surveillance. The store might also monitor a dissatisfied customer departing the store if there is a concern that the customer might commit an act of vandalism. In addition, occasionally a conscientious store customer who observed suspicious activity will alert a security officer and that will trigger surveillance. Patterned behavior. Security officers are also trained to notice any pattern of behavior. If this pattern is suspicious, this person would probably be monitored each time he or she entered the store. For example, the person might handle merchandise for long periods or frequently come to the store to return quantities of merchandise without receipts. When loss prevention professionals take the initiative in explaining the impossibility of accurately interpreting tapes used in support of so-called racial profiling cases, the defense attorney and a qualified defense expert witness can more easily convince a jury that the plaintiff's premise is flawed, thus eliminating distortions and allowing the matter to be judged on factual evidence alone. By aggressively defending spurious racial profiling lawsuits, retailers can avoid paying for offenses they never committed, and they can ensure that their image with customers will not be damaged. Roger H. Schmedlen, CPP, CFE (certified fraud examiner), cII (certified international investigator), and MIPI (member institute of professional investigators), is the president of Loss Prevention Concepts, Ltd., Hartland, Michigan. He is a z57ear member of ASIS. Copyright American Society for Industrial Security May 2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Patients deserve trust not surveillance cameras The recent exposure of Dr David Southall and his colleagues in a report from the NHS Executive (2000) has once again highlighted issues of consent and personal freedom in health care. The report deals primarily with the controversy surrounding Dr Southall's use of children in the clinical trials of experimental ventilator equipment, where parents alleged that correct procedures were not followed in the procurement of consent and that their children suffered long-term brain damage and even death. However, the report has also highlighted the issue of Dr Southall's use of covert video surveillance to expose cases of Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy (MSP). Individuals with this complicated disorder obtain vicarious gratification from inducing, or claiming, suffering in others which results in the involvement of hospitals and medical staff. Commonly, the victims are children and the perpetrators their parents. People suffering from MSP go to great lengths to get medical staff to perform unnecessary medical procedures. Occasionally, as in the case of Beverly Allitt, it is the healthcare staff themselves who are involved. MSP can be very serious as sufferers often attempt to induce symptoms in their victims by, for example, poisoning or partial suffocation. Dr Southall felt that some of the children under his care were victims of MSP and invited the parents and the children into hospital where they were left alone and secretly filmed (Boseley, 2000). Dr Southall's methods were effective: between 1986 and 1994, 34 convictions for child abuse were obtained, although many parents were outraged, complaining that they had been wrongly accused of MSP (Laurance, 2000). However, effective or not, covert operations such as Dr Southall's have no place in the hospital environment. The basic principle at stake is that of trust. Dr Southall was effectively spying on the general public. If such an activity was allowed to become widespread, it would destroy any possibility of therapeutic relationships between healthcare professionals and their patients. Patients have to trust doctors and nurses; their lives are literally in their hands. This element of trust is completely shattered if patients feel that at any time they could be observed for evidence of illegal behaviour. If doctors are at all suspicious that illegal activity is taking place, including the abuse of children, it should be reported to the proper authorities to be investigated by people who are trained to detect criminal behaviour and oversee the welfare of children. Hospitals are not police stations and doctors are not criminal detectives. Jason Beckford-Ball Assistant Editor, British Journal of Nursing Boseley S (2000) NHS on trial over secret baby tests. The Guardian 9 May: 3 Laurance J (2000) Parents were misled over hospital trials that killed premature babies. The Independent 8 May: 1 NHS Executive (2000) West Midlands Regional Office Report of a Review of the Research Framework in North Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust. NHS Executive, Leeds Copyright Mark Allen Publishing Ltd. May 25-Jun 7, 2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Big Brother Is Watching -- On Trains, Streets, in Schools The San Francisco Chronicle Date: 05/02/2000 FINAL; Vol. 332, Issue: 30882; EDITORIAL Section Dorothy Ehrlich GETTING TOUGH on crime has taken a new high-tech turn. Those who claim to sell safer streets now have a new product on the market -- it is a high-tech video surveillance camera. Today's purveyors of safety are claiming to clean up the streets but it's at a price, and the price is our right to privacy. The proposal, to install high- tech video cameras, is gaining in popularity, from commuter trains in the Bay Area, too rural school districts in Mississippi, and all the way to Times Square in New York City. Unfortunately, this new product is not all that it claims to be, and in fact there is no evidence that cities and school districts that are buying this equipment will make us any safer, but there's plenty of proof that the right to privacy, the right to be left alone, will surely be diminished under the watchful eyes of highly sophisticated snooping devices. Today's high-tech entrepreneurs are selling new and improved equipment to spy on people -- people walking on the street, passengers on BART trains or even students going to their high school lockers. This is not the stationary video camera you've grown accustomed to at your local 7-Eleven store. What is being marketed now, as the fix-all solution to crime, are cameras that are able to zoom in from more than 100 yards away and read the print on political flyers being distributed on the public sidewalk, even if it's dark outside. These are cameras that also tape your conversation, even if you're whispering. Indeed, the new video cameras, which are referred to by the manufacturer as CCTV (Closed Circuit Television), have the capability of peering through the windows of private homes and businesses. If you're starting to feel a little bit safer at the potential to secretly ferret out lawbreakers (after all, you've got nothing to hide, right?), a little look at the recent experience with the current surveillance technology is instructive. So far, there is no indication that CCTV is a fierce crime fighter. In New York City, after an expensive 18-month experiment, the cameras were removed, having resulted in only 10 arrests. A more comprehensive study in Britain found that the use of CCTV cameras provided no deterrent to criminal activity. However, the study did show that the cameras certainly were not left idle. In fact, the surveillance cameras and the team of in-studio staff responsible for monitoring, were directly engaged in violations of civil liberties. The study found that the surveillance cameras had a discriminating eye, focusing almost exclusively on people of color, gays and young people. In addition, the British authorities used CCTV to track the movement of individuals and to monitor public meetings, marches and demonstrations. In New York City, a lawsuit was recently brought by unions against the City University of New York, where a campus security director conceded that a surveillance camera had been concealed in a student meeting room to monitor campus political groups. Also in New York, we saw the extensive video monitoring of the Million Youth March in Harlem. Police recording of people exercising their constitutional right to speak can have a chilling and intimidating effect. Ordinary people may shy away from political activities if they believe they will be monitored in this way. The potential to violate the right to privacy, a right deeply valued by Americans and guaranteed directly to Californians under our state constitution, is threatened by the growing use of surveillance cameras. Federal and state laws have long created criminal penalties for illegal wiretapping, and in order to wiretap in the first place, law enforcement is required to show individualized suspicion in order to obtain a warrant. Yet in many ways, CCTV is an even more intrusive form of search than audio wiretapping. CCTV can and has been grossly abused by recording the intimate conduct of citizens and marking innocent people for tracking solely on the basis of racial, gender or other characteristics. No other technique can record in such graphic detail personal and private behavior. Yet this is a technique that is not explicitly controlled by any law; even wiretapping is subject to greater legal restrictions. The growing sophistication of and power of technology is outpacing already inadequate privacy and criminal laws. Laws analogous to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which prohibits unauthorized snooping into electronic communications, are needed to protect us from the dangerous and watchful eye of Big Brother, as the new technology creates an almost Orwellian potential for surveillance and invites abuse. (Copyright 2000) +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Police will analyse hours of videotape to identify May Day riot ringleaders Jason Bennetto and Andrew Mullins The Independent - London 05/03/2000 FOREIGN; Vol. 332, Issue: 30884; News Section SCOTLAND YARD yesterday began a trawl through thousands of hours of video tape to identify a further 200 violent demonstrators and their leaders involved in the May Day riots in central London. Police camera crews and photographers, many hidden, filmed the protest. In addition, dozens of surveillance cameras will be examined. An operation has been set up to analyse the film and photos, identify suspects and make arrests. Nearly 100 people have been arrested in connection with the disorder and the first offenders appeared in court yesterday. Police believe another 200 people were involved in criminal actions. Photos of suspects will be posted on the internet, printed on posters and published in newspapers in the hope members of the public will recognise them. Police will pay special attention to demonstrators filmed with flags and mobile telephones, who detectives believe were orchestrating some of the violence. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Michael Todd said: "The disorder was obviously highly organised by a small number of people who were co-ordinating events ... identifying, arresting and bringing to justice those responsible has already started. We will do everything we can to ensure that these people are found." Analysis of surveillance material follows a similar operation after rioting in the City of London and at Euston station last year. A lesson learnt then was the importance of obtaining photographic evidence. A failed attempt by police to force media to hand over pictures and film has resulted in the greater deployment of police camera crews. Demonstrators rounded up on Monday were checked against photos of suspects still wanted from the previous rioting in London. Veterans of violent protests use a variety of hats and changes of clothes to disguise themselves. Yesterday Scotland Yard said officers stood back while demonstrators committed low- level vandalism on May Day, for fear of provoking violence. But law-breakers would be prosecuted, the spokesman said. Activists from Reclaim the Streets, one of the protest organisers, distanced themselves from the violence and said of the defacing of the Cenotaph: "We do not necessarily celebrate the generals and the ruling class that send people to their deaths in order to protect the privileges and control of the few. The abhorrence of sending millions of men to their deaths in the trenches dwarfs the stupidity of any possible slogan on any possible piece of stone." Those who appeared in court yesterday in connection with the rioting included a British Telecom telephonist, Richard Stephens, 28, of Bristol, who was jailed for 14 days after admitting using threatening words or behaviour. Alan McAlve, 38, from Rochester, Kent, was jailed for 90 days for using threatening words or behaviour. Jan Erlstedt, 31, a designer from Slough, Berkshire, who admitted obstructing the highway in the Strand, was fined pounds 100. (Copyright 2000 Newspaper Publishing PLC) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Hoteliers stand behind increased use of CCTV Hotel & Motel Management 05/01/2000 ISSN: 0018-6082; Vol. 215 No. 8; p. 56-58 Bruce Adams The use of dosed-circuitTV is on the rise in the lodging industry as hotels are installing the systems for a variety of reasons, including crime deterrence, employee security and customer satisfaction. The Regal Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles installed four CCTV cameras in the early 1980s, upgraded to 24 new cameras in 1998 and then added eight cameras last year. "Our existing CCTV system was antiquated. We only had four black-and-white cameras, and the system did not serve our purposes," said Richard Foisy, director of security at the Regal Biltmore. The 24 color cameras monitor public and back of house areas. The cameras are focused on meeting rooms, the kitchen, freezers, the employee entrance area, the front desk and lobby, the parking garage, the main galleria, ballrooms and the sports bar. Foisy said hotel executives were happy with the results of the initial 24 cameras and decided to add eight cameras to watch over coolers, the liquor-storage area and the gold service-place settings, which have been a part of the historic hotel since 1923. "We want to provide the most secure environment for our guests and employees," Foisy said. "The cameras are reassuring to them. We explained to employees that we are not trying to monitor their work habits, but to ensure their safety and security." He said the hotel posted signs in the back-entrance area to make sure employees and others know that there is 24-hour camera surveillance. The cameras are visible "if you look for them," and Foisy said he considers their visibility an enhancement to the system because they will encourage crooks to go elsewhere. Closed-circuit TVs often are used to monitor back-of-house operations, including employees' entrances. The cameras have helped apprehend theft suspects and also have been useful in slip-and-fall cases. In one such case, the camera showed that a guest was gazing up at the art deco work on the ceiling rather than looking at the steps she was descending. The cameras also have cut pilfering by employees, which Foisy said is not a bigger problem at the Biltmore than it is at any large hotel. "We have almost 700 rooms and employ about 700 people," said Foisy, a retired police lieutenant from Fullerton, Calif. "It is a very high visibility hotel. The five past presidents all were here either as speakers or guests." It also is a favorite place for Academy Awards nominees to stay, and it has hosted Grammy awards parties. Securiry watches two monitors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each monitor can display 16, eight, four or a single camera at once. Their system is being rented fiom and was installed by CamEra of St. Petersburg, Fla., a marketer of CCTV systems. Burges Jokhi, owner of the Wingate Inn Atlanta/Buckhead, had a CCTV system installed in his 100-room property, which opened in February. He has JVC cameras pointed at the front desk, the lobby, three exit doors, under the canopy of the entrance to see cars and license plates, and over the swimming pool. "The cameras provide peace of mind for us and for our guests," he said. "We don't have lifeguards at our pool, so we want to make sure adults are monitoring kids. It's also for liability reasons." Monitors are located in the back office, the general manager's office and the owner's office. All of the doors are key-card installed, except the front desk. He said they plan to install a dial-up system to remotely access the camera through the Internet from anywhere in the world in real time. "The purpose of the Internet is to give me a greater comfort level. I'm not here 24 hours a day, but I can still check in and make sure guests are being taken care of," Jokhi said. "When I can't sleep at night, I can dial in. If I work from home or fm traveling, I can monitor through the Internet." Add customer satisfaction to the list of reasons CCTV is used at Wingate Inn Tampa North, according to Dave Larson, managing partner. The 85-room property opened in late summer 1999, and the CCTV system was installed one month later at the request of frontdesk personnel who wanted it for the feeling of security it provides, especially after hours. "We are in the lowest crime area in Tampa and have very good police protection," Larson said. "The police, who do community outreach, even recommended we install the system." But the system also improves customer service. "We look up at the monitor in our office and if we see a crowd at the front desk, we can jump up and help out," Larson said. Many upscale hotels want to watch their front-desk staff to ensure customers are being handled politely quickly and according to their specifications, said Karen Allinder national sales manager for CamEra. By Bruce Adams H&MM SENIOR EDITOR Copyright Advanstar Communications, Inc. May 1, 2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++