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    February 2019

    Using Security Cameras and Closed Circuit TV on Campus

    Installing security cameras and closed circuit television (CCTV) systems can raise privacy rights issues for students, employees, and visitors at educational institutions. These essential security tools can help institutions meet their legal duty to use reasonable care to protect the physical safety of those on campus. Surveillance systems can also deter crime and gather evidence to convict perpetrators.

    Operating guidelines are necessary to prevent unlawful or improper use of security cameras. Courts recognize a right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution and in several state constitutions. Individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in places such as residences, bathrooms, and locker rooms. Moreover, federal and state laws place limits on the appropriate use of surveillance technologies.

    To operate security cameras or a CCTV system, an institution should adopt guidelines that cover:

    • Objectives. Clearly define authorized purposes such as the prevention of crime and public disorder, identifying criminal activity and suspects, gathering evidence, and documenting police actions.
    • Locations. Security cameras and CCTV are usually placed in public or open locations such as streets, sidewalks, parks, building commons areas, parking lots, and stadiums. In residential buildings, cameras may be installed around entrances and exits, stairwells, and hallways. Surveillance tools are usually not placed in residence hall rooms, bathrooms, or locker rooms without a court order or approval by the chief of police.
    • Signage. Institutions that use security cameras should notify individuals who may be affected. It is often sufficient to describe the surveillance program on the campus safety website and post signs announcing the presence (but not the specific location) of security cameras. Review the posting and content of signage with the institution's legal counsel.
    • Storage of recordings. Store recorded videotape and digital video images for a time period consistent with the institution’s record-retention policies and state records laws. After that period, delete the images unless they are needed in a legal proceeding.
    • Training. Train personnel on the installation, use, and monitoring of the cameras, and on the collection of video or digital data, applicable laws, and ethical considerations.
    • Violations. Require reporting of unauthorized or illegal use of the security cameras or CCTV system to campus police. Discipline violators and consider referring them for criminal prosecution.
    • Needs assessment and review. Each school or college should perform a needs assessment before initiating a surveillance program. Periodically review the effectiveness of the security technology to ensure the program meets its objectives.

    Sample Policies

    International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators Standards Manual

    Carleton College Surveillance Camera Guidelines


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