Security should never take away liberty//MCTcampus

Security should never take away liberty//MCTcampus

By Gabe Wanissian, Editor In Chief

We are currently faced with a dilemma of just how much liberty and privacy we are willing to give up to increase our safety at BCC. The answer seems to be a just a little bit, as since 2008, the College has increased the number of security cameras up to an estimated 200, according to The Office of Public Safety. But it should never come at the expense of using that to manage employee behavior.

Of course, this is not a knock on the security cameras themselves, because in today’s society, they are not only effective – but necessary. Seventy five percent of lost or stolen items are now retrieved since their implementation, according to the Office of Public Safety. Whether they are used to discover who was responsible for a fender bender, or if the camera captured an assault, that case can now be followed up to ensure a student, faculty member or employee’s safety.

However, there seems to be a double edge sword to this useful tool, as the lack of a policy on camera usage has led to suboptimal working conditions for those who we trust to keep us safe on campus.

Several Public safety officers, who I will leave anonymous out of respect, expressed that they feel that they are being watched on camera by colleagues, and that this has bred a culture of intimidation in the process. This is no climate for an employee to work under, and while an officer who is slacking on the job should be reprimanded for his or her subpar work, it should not come in the form of “Big Brother” spying on them.

Of course, one could argue that if someone has nothing to hide, then what is the big deal if an employee is being watched by his or her boss? This is a weak argument, and one can reply with another question. How would you feel if a cop demanded to search your car, and if you replied with “do you have a warrant officer?” The officer replied with “what do you have to hide?” even without probable cause?

Credit needs to be given where it is due, however, as Vice President of Facilities, Planning, Operations and Public Safety WIlliam Corcoran and Executive Director of Human Resources James Miller have now expressed plans to create a sound camera policy ever since this issue was brought up to them. The Office of Human Resources followed up by saying that any occurrences of spying is unacceptable, and it will lead to disciplinary action.

Perhaps an internal evaluation is necessary, but taking a look at other colleges that have created effective camera protocols is also crucial. Santa Fe Community College happens to be one of them, as their camera policy is one that was developed to stress fair use.

The SFCC’s Policy process provides sound guidelines to mitigate any misuse of cameras towards employees under “Procedures and Locations.” The first rule states “The use of surveillance cameras is limited to uses that do not violate a person’s ‘reasonable expectation of privacy,’ as that term is defined by law.” A follow up rule states “The College’s use of surveillance cameras for monitoring or recording must be used in a professional, ethical, and legal manner consistent with all existing College policies.”

Some other procedures that can further create a foolproof camera policy is to implement the use of a logbook that tracks all noted incidents found on camera. In addition, camera surveillance should only be accessible to a certain few; those who have been adequately trained and are qualified to monitor them.

The administrators at the College are now aware of this, yet it is a shame that it took this long. Currently, there is no timetable as to when a rough policy procedure will be created, but it is a start. Let’s hope that the following actions bring us closer to proper camera use.