Smile for the Camera: CCTV
Posted by Pamela S. on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
Warning. You are under CCTV surveillance. We hardly notice these signs anymore. Are CCTV systems really a deterrence to crime, or do they help solve crimes after the fact? That depends. Are your systems being monitored? What about the legalities, such as posting warning signs? CCTV has become a third eye for law enforcement and security agencies around the globe.
Three parking booth attendants at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Annex were caught stealing by closed circuit cameras. Unfortunately, they had already stolen at least $400,000 in a three year period, sometimes as much as $4,000 a day, according to The U.S Attorney’s office.
CNN reported that three employees of Parking Management Inc. were arrested by FBI and Smithsonian security and have been charged with embezzling and stealing federal monies. The suspects are: Freweyni Mebrathu, 45, of Sterling, Virginia; Genete Yigzu, 46, of Alexandria, Virginia; and Meseret Terefe, 36, of Silver Spring, Maryland.
The parking attendents had unplugged the electronic vehicle counters. One of the attendants was observed on camera stuffing money into a duffel bag.
I’m not sure why they weren’t caught earlier, but CCTV cameras have proven to be an extremely useful tool for obtaining evidence.
Read Security Magazine’s “How to Expand Surveillance Monitoring” According to author Bill Zalud, there has been a significant shift from live monitoring to retrieval of images for investigation and forensic needs. Today’s sophisticated CCTV control centers are filled with screens and equipment which analyse data. Monitoring can now be done remotely from a laptop, tablet or smartphone. You can keep an eye on your facility from any location.
For public facilities, such as housing complexes and school campuses, law enforcement are also able to access the CCTV system remotely in the event of an emergency or critical situation.
Zalud writes about the latest innovations in CCTV systems in this article. For example, Western Kentucky University uses an integrated monitoring system that links to the campus emergency phones. When someone activates the emergency phone system, live cameras on a pan-tilt-zoom platform monitor the situation.
Also check out another excellent article by Bill Zalud, “Using Video Management Systems for Effective Investigations”.
In another article in Security Management Magazine, “CCTV: Panacea or Problem” written in January 2011, author John Strauchs CPP points out “25% to 50% of video cameras represent wasted money”. He says that simply installing CCTV systems in places such as college and university campuses doesn’t stop crime, unless you are able to monitor the cameras in real time. Many public facilities or schools don’t have the funds for that kind of staffing. According to Strauchs, a guard can’t watch more than 9 to 12 monitors at a time.
Strauchs also writes about the use of cameras in public spaces. Everyone uses the example of London, England, where CCTV has become ubiquitous. More American cities are considering this type of public surveillance. Red light cameras are already an effective tool in many cities. Strauchs says that you have to understand the limitations, both physically and legally before you consider investing this kind of money. Strauchs may be playing devil’s advocate. He clearly understands the value of CCTV cameras, but he is willing to discuss the pros and cons. He knows what he is talking about, Strauchs has designed, specified, or surveyed hundred’s of CCTV systems.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.