(Chapter 2 Video Surveillance, Continued)
Signage for use of cameras on school grounds
Very visible and hard-to-miss signs at the entrances to a school campus and at major entrances into school buildings serve many purposes. Their value to security should not be underestimated. Signs are not overly expensive, but the price of not having one can sometimes be astronomical.
- Signs that inform the public and the school occupants that certain security measures are in force can provide a frontline deterrent. Without any other knowledge, an outsider faced with the choice of vandalizing a school with security warning signs or a school with no signs or other obvious indications of self-defense will choose the latter.
- As described in the section of this manual on legal issues, liability can be minimized through the use of signs. A piece of information that can be important to include on a warning sign is whether cameras are not being monitored. There have been a few lawsuits in the United States that have been filed and consequently won because someone at a facility was attacked, but the victim did not try to defend himself or herself against the perpetrator; he or she was under the impression that, because a video camera was aimed directly at him or her, help would surely arrive soon. This is a common assumption. Sample wording for a school sign regarding this particular issue could be:
WARNING: This facility employs video surveillance equipment for security purposes. This equipment may or may not be monitored at any time.
- Covert approaches to security can sometimes be open to contention, especially by someone who is caught in this way. The use of covert cameras can be extremely effective in providing evidence for prosecution; however, not all school districts or school boards will support their use. It may not be necessary, however, to post signs regarding every security detail being incorporated on a campus. It may be quite sufficient to insert a warning regarding the use of covert cameras in the school policy document that is signed by every student and parent at the beginning of the school year and in the contracts signed by every employee. (Don't forget to include this information in contracts for outside services.)
Research Report: The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools