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The mission of Howard Community College’s department of public safety is to provide a safe and secure environment for students, employees, and visitors.  Technology is a necessary component of a best practices approach to public safety.  Security cameras are a critical technology component in crime prevention and are a tool in the college’s efforts to increase campus security and safety.  Security cameras are used in a professional and ethical manner in accordance with college policy and federal, state, and local laws and regulations.  It should be noted that the presence of security cameras does not guarantee safety for persons or property at all times.

This procedure regulates the use of security cameras on campus.  Objectives of this procedure are to:

  • enhance the safety and well-being of the college population and protect college property;
  • respect the privacy of members of the campus community and guests;
  • support the mission of the department of public safety; and
  • provide transparency in the use of video camera technology in achieving a safe and secure campus environment.

Definitions

A security camera is a camera used for video surveillance  of public areas for the purposes of enhancing public safety, surveillance of restricted areas or equipment, discouraging theft and other criminal activities, and preventing, investigating, and resolving incidents related to violation of college policies.  The most common security cameras rely on closed circuit television.  Security camera systems are any electronic service, software, or hardware directly supporting or deploying a security camera.  Security camera monitoring is the occasional, real-time review or watching of security camera feeds.  Security camera surveillance is the digital or analog recording of the feed from a security camera.

Responsibilities and Authority

The director of public safety is responsible for overseeing security cameras and associated policies, standards, and procedures.  This responsibility includes:

  • creating, maintaining, and reviewing the campus strategy for procurement, deployment, and use of security cameras;
  • authorizing placement of security cameras;
  • authorizing the purchase of new security camera systems in accordance with college purchasing policies and procedures;
  • reviewing existing security camera systems and installations and determining required changes to bring them into compliance with this procedure;
  • creating and approving the procedures for security cameras and their use; and
  • ensuring operators will be trained in the appropriate use of security cameras, in compliance with training on legal and ethical standards provided to public safety officers.

Security Camera Placement

The department of public safety may establish temporary or permanent security cameras in public areas of the campus. 

Pursuant to Maryland law, security cameras may not be used in private areas of the campus unless advance notification is given to any individual entering the private area.  Private areas include bathrooms, shower areas, locker and changing rooms, areas where a person might reasonably change clothes, private offices and, rooms for medical, physical, or mental therapy or treatment.  When security cameras are permitted in private areas, the camera will be used narrowly to protect money, real or personal property, documents, supplies, equipment, or pharmaceuticals from theft, destruction, or tampering.

To the maximum extent possible, security cameras will not be used to get close-up video through the windows of any private residential space or office located off campus.  If needed, electronic shielding will be placed in the security camera so that the security camera cannot be used to look into or through windows.  Additionally, security cameras will not be directed at the windows of any private building not on college property.

Audio recordings are prohibited.

Security Camera Feeds and Recordings

The department of public safety may review and monitor security camera feeds and recordings as needed to support investigations and to enhance public safety.  The director of public safety may assign staff to review and monitor security camera feeds and recordings.  Monitoring or surveillance of individuals based on characteristics of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or other protected classifications is prohibited.

Notification Requirements

Signs will be posted on campus indicating that video surveillance is used to promote safety at the college.  The placement of and the text on the signs will be subject to the review and approval of the director of public safety, in collaboration with the public relations and marketing office.

Use of Recordings

With the approval of the director of public safety, security camera recordings will be used for the purposes described in the definition of a security camera, noted previously.  This use extends to release by the department of public safety to external law enforcement agencies and other college departments where appropriate.  Camera recordings that become part of a security report that are not part of a student’s educational record can be released to a third party.  Records of access to and release of security camera recordings must be sufficient and validate compliance with this procedure.

Recordings from cameras whose primary function is not security may, with the authorization of the vice president of administration and finance, be used for the purposes described in the definition of security camera.  In these circumstances the director of public safety will inform the unit head when requesting or acquiring the recording. 

Retention of Security Camera Recordings

Security camera recordings will be retained for a period of 14 to 30 days.  Those recordings transferred to CDs or other drives for investigative purposes will be retained for a period of three years and attached to the original security incident report.  This retention period may be extended at the request of the college’s legal counsel or the director of public safety, or as required by law.

Compliance

The director of public safety will ensure that records related to the use of security cameras and recordings from security cameras validate compliance with this procedure.  Staff who maintain or support security camera technology must also maintain records and systems to ensure compliance with this procedure. 

At the direction of the vice president of administration and finance, the director of public safety will periodically review the security camera systems and procedures and provide the vice president of administration and finance with a summary of findings and recommendations.

Failure to meet the requirements of this procedure may result in the loss of authority to use security cameras as determined by the college president. 

Policy Manual Review/Revision:  02/08/13