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City Hall next to be equipped with surveillance cameras

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Signs will go up on the main floor of City Hall by the end of this year alerting visitors and employees that surveillance cameras are monitoring them.

Video cameras at City Hall, on city buses and in the offices of Sarnia Transit is the next step in making municipal facilities a safer place to work, said deputy clerk James Jenkins.

Other measures already taken at City Hall include key card access to some parts of the building.

“The cameras have been on the city’s agenda for some time and are somewhat overdue,” Jenkins said.

Surveillance cameras are already operating at city parks, fire halls, public works and recreational facilities.

Jenkins said money in this year’s budget will be used to install cameras at City Hall focused on main floor exits and entrances.

The other floors and spaces will get cameras in coming years, he said.

Incidents in which the public entered unauthorized areas and approached staff have occurred, Jenkins said.

“There have been times when one of our employees possibly felt unsafe,” he said.

He couldn’t point to any specific examples but said prior police investigations might have been assisted had video been available.

Jenkins said union representatives for city employees have been asked for input on video surveillance but with no response to date, he said.

Council will consider a draft policy for staff working in a monitored environment on May 28.

Meanwhile, cameras have already been installed in some facilities and money has been budgeted to buy more.

“Stationary video cameras provide a cost effective solution to assist with post-incident investigations for workplace violence as well as illegal activities such as vandalism and theft,” the staff report states.

According to the draft policy, only authorized personnel will review recordings and video footage won’t be saved more than 14 days unless needed for an investigation.

Who watches it will depend on the incident itself. If it’s a crime, police will view it, Jenkins said.

“We want to ensure our cameras are minimally intrusive when it comes to the public.”

Signs will be posted to ensure everyone knows a camera is monitoring an area, he said.

“We’d don’t want to leave the impression that we are deceiving anybody.”

The proposed video camera policy can be seen online at clerks.smartsarnia.com.





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