Abuses of surveillance cameras
We are told that surveillance cameras are never abused by their operators, each of whom can supposedly be trusted not to use the awesome technology at their disposal to engage in despicable or outright illegal behavior. But this information is false: camera-operators are not angels; they are subject to the same prejudices, temptations and corruptions that we all struggle with; camera-operators get bored or arrogant and abuse their cameras on a regular basis. To confirm this, one only has to keep up with the news being reported from around the world, which is precisely what we plan to do here, on this page, in chronological order. (Click here for a listing of protests against surveillance cameras, and here for a listing of reports citing the ineffectiveness of video surveillance as a "crime-fighting" tool.)
26 November 2001, New York City: Important Consumer Alert: United States Secret Service Uncovers ATM Fraud, Consumer Services, State of New York Banking Department.
The New York State Banking Department is working closely with law enforcement officials to protect New York consumers. According to investigators at the NYPD and United States Secret Service, some victims across New York City have lost up to thousands of dollars since the beginning of the summer as a ring of thieves obtain personal identification numbers (PINS) and make unauthorized withdrawals using fake ATM cards. The majority of complaints to the NYPD appear to have come from individuals who used ATMs on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but also from customers in the Financial District and West Side. According to officials, most victims had used their cards in machines located at grocery stores, delis and shopping malls, rather than at bank machines, where there is generally more ["legitimate"] surveillance.
Investigators believe that the thieves use small hidden video cameras [disguised as "legitimate security cameras"] to tape people punching their personal identification numbers into ATMs and also attach a device to the machines to record data from the magnetic strips on the victims' cards. In other cases, thieves connected personal computers to ATMs and downloaded account information. The investigation has now expanded nationwide, with Secret Service agents working with local law enforcement officials and banks. Investigators say that arrests are expected in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, here's what you can do to protect yourself from becoming victimized by this or other potential ATM scams:
If you or anyone you know becomes a victim of unauthorized ATM use, please report this crime to your bank and local precinct immediately.
25 September 2002, Ohio, USA: "Ohio man files $1.5M suit against Marriott: Hidden camera found in bathroom," by Randy Kenner, News-Sentinel staff writer.
An Ohio man filed a $1.5 million lawsuit Tuesday against the Knoxville Marriott hotel after finding a hidden camera in a bathroom light fixture in July.
Bryan Brewer discovered the small video camera after noticing a tiny black spot -- which he thought was an insect but turned out to be a hole -- in the fixture, according to the lawsuit. At the time Brewer, the vice president of a California company, was staying at the Marriott while on business. His attorney, K.O. Herston, filed the lawsuit in Knox County Circuit Court. Named as defendants are Marriott International Inc. and Columbia Sussex Corp., a Fort Mitchell, Ky., corporation that operated at least 28 Marriotts with more than 8,500 rooms.
"The allegations have been turned over to the proper authorities, who we are cooperating with fully," said Doug Allen, the general manager of the downtown Marriott. Allen declined to comment any further, citing an ongoing investigation by the Knox County Sheriff's Department. Brewer, contacted Tuesday, declined comment.
According to the lawsuit, Brewer, 27, discovered the camera on the morning of July 11. "Thinking it might be an insect, Mr. Brewer swatted at the black spot, thereby inadvertently breaking the plastic cover on the light fixture," Herston wrote in the lawsuit. "He called the front desk, apologized and offered to pay for the fixture."
But while he was waiting for someone to fix the damage, Brewer noticed wires and discovered a small video camera. A further look by security personnel confirmed that it was an elaborate, self-contained, video recording system.
"The video camera was connected to the bathroom light switch such that the camera would begin recording when the bathroom light was turned on and would stop recording when (it) was turned off," the lawsuit states. Herston said that the equipment had a film of dust on it indicating that it had been there for some time. It also had a piece of tape on it indicating the room number, Room 253.
Herston said that Marriott employees let Brewer view the tape in their presence but refused to give it to him. The tape and video equipment have been turned over to the Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff's Department also has refused to give him the tape, Herston said. He also said he's not sure why the Sheriff's Department is investigating the case since the Knoxville Police Department is next door to the Marriott. Herston said the detective handling the case told him, "'All I know is that I was called to the scene and I responded to the call.'"
Marriott officials said they have inspected other rooms at the hotel but have refused to say what, if anything, was found, Herston said. "There are a lot of questions and we need some answers," Herston said before adding, "How many other people were taped?"Martha Dooley, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department, said the reason the tape isn't being turned over is because, "It is an ongoing investigation." As for the office handling the case, Dooley said, "We routinely answer calls from businesses and residences in the city as well as the county."
Someone from the hotel apparently called the Sheriff's Department directly. KPD spokesman Darrell DeBusk said that KPD did not receive a call from the hotel.
The lawsuit contends that Brewer has suffered harm as a result of the discovery. "In Mr. Brewer's case, he has become paranoid," Herston indicated. "He hates to travel now and that has caused tension at work since his job requires so much travel. When he does travel, he spends a lot of time going over every inch of his hotel room to make sure it is safe. This has really affected his career and well-being." In addition to the $1.5 million in damages, Brewer also seeks the return of all copies of the videotaped recording of him. Brewer has not been back in Knoxville since the incident.
"If he comes back, he certainly won't stay at the Marriott," Herston said.
1 July 2003, Overton County, Tennessee: Overton County schools sued over locker room filming, by Claudette Riley.
Overton County parents upset that their children were filmed undressing in school locker rooms have filed suit, charging that school officials allowed surveillance cameras to be installed and then failed to secure the images. The lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Nashville. The parents have asked for $4.2 million in damages. They contend that the school system in Overton County, on the Upper Cumberland Plateau, violated students' rights by putting hidden cameras in Livingston Middle School's boys and girls locker rooms. The cameras reportedly captured students, ages 10-14, in various stages of undress.
A student from an Overton County elementary in Allons was visiting Livingston for an interscholastic basketball game in early January and noticed a "suspicious device" in a locker room. The student told school officials, who reportedly downplayed any concerns. The discovery triggered months of tough questions from parents, officials said.
"The parents have been devastated by the conduct of the school officials, by the videotaping and by the breach of trust," said attorney Mark Chalos, who represents 16 girls and one boy from Allons Elementary. "The parents entrusted school officials with their children and the school officials paid for, authorized and permitted the photographing of children getting undressed in a school locker room."
Chuck Cagle, lawyer for Overton County Schools, said he wouldn't comment yesterday because he hadn't read the lawsuit. He added that some of the school officials and board members named in the lawsuit were being served with summons papers throughout the day yesterday.
The company that installed the security cameras in several Overton County schools, including Livingston, also was named in the lawsuit. Officials with EduTech Inc., based in Dyersburg, Tenn., had no comment yesterday. The lawsuit contends that images captured by the cameras were stored on a hard drive in the office of Livingston's Assistant Principal Robert Jolley and were accessible through remote computer Internet connection. The images were reportedly accessed 98 times between July 2002 and January 2003 -- sometimes late at night and early in the morning -- and through Internet providers in Clarksville, Tenn.; Gainesboro, Tenn.; and Rock Hill, S.C.
[The lawsuit] also argues that school officials could have done more to protect the images, pointing out that the username and password required to access the images remained at the factory default setting and had never been changed. "There was an ability to protect the access," Chalos said.
William Needham, director of Overton County Schools, referred questions about the lawsuit to Cagle. But he confirmed that Jolley has been transferred to another school in the system. Chalos said he doesn't know if the cameras are still operating but doesn't want any other students to suffer the same embarrassment and anxiety as his clients. "We think there were lots and lots of people photographed who may not know it yet," Chalos said. "It's the parents' position that no one . . . has the right to photograph their children getting undressed and no one has the right to make those images accessible over the Internet."
11 July 2003, Atlanta, Georgia: Woman claims she was videotaped in Toys R Us restroom by the Associated Press.
A woman who says she noticed a video camera in the ceiling of an Alpharetta Toys R Us bathroom is suing the retailer for invasion of privacy. Tamara Perez says she noticed a hole in the ceiling above the commode while visiting the suburban Atlanta store on March 21. According to her lawsuit, Perez quickly left the womens restroom and asked her husband to investigate. Walter Perez moved a ceiling tile and found a video camera with a transmittal device, according to the lawsuit. "She was just overwhelmed, shocked and mortified this could happen, especially in a Toys R Us, where lots of children would be in that bathroom," said Perezs lawyer, Audrey Tolson. Tolson works for the Atlanta law firm whose partners include famed attorney Johnnie Cochran.
A spokeswoman for Toys R Us, which is based in Paramus, N.J., said the camera was not supposed to be there and that the company took immediate action when it was found. "The camera was not one of our surveillance cameras, nor was it placed with the knowledge of anyone associated with Toys R Us," spokeswoman Susan McLaughlin wrote in a statement. "There is no evidence that anything was recorded or broadcast. This appears to be an isolated incident, and we continue to work with police."
Perez's suit asks for unspecified damages for invasion of privacy and emotional distress. Perez also claims that the traumatic incident led to health problems because she was eight months pregnant at the time. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Fulton County State Court.
1 August 2003, Nashville, Tennessee: Company denies charges by Amanda Wardle.
A West Tennessee computer networking company has denied responsibility in a federal lawsuit charging Middle Tennessee school officials with negligently allowing video cameras to tape middle school aged children as they undressed in a school locker room. Dyersburg, Tenn.-based EduTech Inc. this month filed a response in Middle Tennessee's U.S. District Court denying charges that it placed video cameras in the locker room of Livingston Middle School in Overton County. The suit, filed by the parents of 17 students, charges school board members, school administrators and EduTech with violating the civil rights of middle school students and engaging in reckless, negligent behavior. It seeks more than $4 million in damages.
Legal documents claim that EduTech representatives installed a video camera surveillance system in Livingston Middle School and other Overton County schools in July 2002 at the direction of school administrators, and that, among other school locations, cameras were installed in locker rooms where students changed clothes. The suit claims that, when a child noticed a camera in a locker room several months later and raised questions about it, school administrators reviewed images from the locker room and said they were "nothing more than images of 'a few bras and panties.'" The images were also allegedly accessible via the Internet, and the suit claims they were viewed by individuals in at least two states.
In its response, EduTech stressed its position that cameras were not hidden. While the process involved in the installation of video surveillance equipment at the school is not detailed in the company's response, it notes that EduTech simply "put the [surveillance] equipment where it was told to put the equipment" when it was installed. EduTech denies, however, that it was instructed by school officials to place camera equipment in locker rooms, or that surveillance equipment was placed in locker rooms at all. While EduTech maintains that it should not be held responsible for any damages if court officials find liability in the case, it "pleads the doctrine of comparative fault" in any potential ruling of negligence. Representatives for EduTech declined to discuss the case further.
Overton County school officials have not commented on charges, but are expected to file their own response to the charges in coming weeks. The school board's attorney could not be reached for comment.
6 August 2003, Wilton Manors, Florida: Man Sues Over Bathroom Cameras: Lawsuit Claims Cameras Violated His Rights.
WILTON MANORS, Fla. -- A man is suing the city of Wilton Manors because he said police were watching him when he used the bathroom. The lawsuit claims restroom cameras at Colohatchee Park violated the unidentified man's rights. Police had arrested the man and charged him with public exposure based on evidence collected from the camera, but later dropped the charge. The man's lawyer, Gary Kollin, said he thought the city installed the cameras because they were concerned about sexual contact in the park.
"They invaded his privacy and they invaded the privacy of other people who were unaware of it by placing a video camera into a public restroom," Kollin said. A sign outside of the park said authorities use surveillance cameras. The city and the Police Department said they could not comment on a pending lawsuit.
10 September 2003, Beaufort, South Carolina: Suit: Camera violates privacy, by Noah Haglund.
A wall-mounted camera used to videotape the men's bathroom of a mid-island bar has invaded the privacy of bar patrons, according to a lawsuit filed in the Beaufort County Courthouse last week. The lawsuit, filed Sept. 1, accuses the owner of Vic's Tavern, Charles S. Cole Jr., of violating the privacy of two Beaufort County men -- Pawey Suchocki and Vince Bryant -- who used the bathroom earlier this year. The tavern, located at 430 William Hilton Parkway, posted no clear warning that a camera was being used in the bathroom, said the plaintiffs' attorney, Coleman Hookaylo Jr.
"My understanding is that the owner of Vic's Tavern, for whatever reason, decided he had to have surveillance of the men's bathroom," Hookaylo said. "By doing so, he violated the rights and expectations of everyone who entered that bathroom." The men are seeking $200,000 each for invasion of privacy and $200,000 each for infliction of emotional distress.
A surveillance tape recorded Suchocki, of Hilton Head Island, ripping the camera from the wall late at night on May 26 or early in the morning on May 27, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office incident report. Hookaylo later returned the camera to the Sheriff's Office, saying that his client had seized it because he was "incensed," according to a letter sent by the attorney to the Sheriff's Office.
The tavern has a closed circuit system with four cameras, one of which was in the men's bathroom, the report said. Footage from the bathroom showed the sink and urinal, where people can be seen from behind while using it, the report said. The toilet cannot be seen when the stall door is closed, the report said. FBI agent Mike Hagen and assistant Solicitor Duffie Stone advised the Sheriff's Office that the taping did not pose any criminal offense, according to the report.
On Tuesday, neither Cole nor his attorney, Tom Finn, would comment on why the camera was installed. Cole called the lawsuit "frivolous" and "absurd." In the Sheriff's Office report, Cole said the camera was installed to catch vandals.
12 September 2003, Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Strip traffic camera zooms in on bar-goers; State trooper spokesman says investigation ongoing, by Jon Gargis.
The traffic camera featured on Comcast Cable's Channel 45 was showing more than just traffic early Friday -- it was following people on the Strip. The Crimson White learned at about 1:45 a.m. Friday that the traffic camera at the intersection of University Boulevard and Reed Street, which usually remains stationary, was panning, tilting and zooming in on people and objects along the Strip. The Strip camera operator(s) manipulated the camera to zoom in on several college-aged women's breasts and buttocks as they walked down the street. The operator(s) also captured a group of young men who had spotted the camera's movement and were making various gestures and movements.
Joe Robinson, transportation director and city engineer for the Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation, said the manipulated camera was controlled by someone from the Alabama State Troopers Office. "We don't condone that at the city, and we should think that neither would the State Troopers Office," Robinson said.
Trooper Chris Ellis, public information officer for the Alabama State Troopers Office, said Friday afternoon the department was still investigating and was not ready to release an official statement concerning the situation.
While Channel 45 usually shows an Alabama weather map for a few seconds and switches to various traffic cameras across the county for a few seconds at a time, the channel only showed the view of the University Boulevard and Reed Street intersection's camera. The instrumental music that usually plays on the channel was also absent during the broadcast of the Strip-focused camera.
Robinson said a number of agencies in addition to the Alabama State Troopers Office have camera control centers across the city and have access to the traffic cameras. The agencies include the Tuscaloosa DOT, the Alabama DOT, Tuscaloosa Police Department and Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management. He added that the University of Alabama Police Department would have access to some of the cameras in the near future. Robinson said all control centers have access to all the cameras, but the Tuscaloosa DOT was removing access to some of the cameras at some of the locations.
Jon Howell, traffic systems manager for Tuscaloosa, added that though all control centers have access, the camera system logs all cameras' movements and tracks where the camera commands originate. Howell said it was unknown Friday afternoon if an inadvertent keystroke was the cause of putting the camera's view as the sole video on the channel or if the act was intentional. "We can tell where [the commands] came from, but right now we don't believe this act was an intentional override to put [the camera's view] on the channel," Howell said.Howell and Robinson said they were made aware of the problem by the Tuscaloosa Police Department at 3:30 a.m. They said they were told the camera movement began after 3 a.m. and lasted until 4 or 4:30 a.m. They added they were unaware Friday afternoon of any camera manipulation before 3 a.m.
The CW discovered that Channel 45 had been taken off the air sometime Friday afternoon. It was still off at 11 p.m. Friday.
Robinson said actions could be taken against agencies that allow misuse of the cameras to happen. "We're concerned that this does not happen again," he said.
15 September 2003, Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Three Arrested After Traffic Camera Aimed as Passersby, The Associated Press.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Images from a traffic camera that was used instead to monitor passersby near the University of Alabama led to the arrests of three people allegedly misbehaving on the street, police said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, officials said they were still investigating who had diverted the focus of the camera from traffic -- where it normally is used to monitor vehicles -- to pedestrians, particularly young women. The remote-control camera, located at an intersection near a row of nightclubs, usually shows traffic. But officials said someone in a state trooper office diverted the camera to focus on pedestrians in the pre-dawn hours last Friday. Footage broadcast citywide on a cable TV channel showed several people, and the camera zoomed in on the breasts and buttocks of several young women walking past.
A 22-year-old woman was charged with public lewdness about 4:10 a.m. after baring her breasts in front of the [obviously visible] camera, said Capt. David Hartin, and a 25-year-old man was charged with disorderly conduct moments later after allegedly grabbing his crotch as cars went by. A 28-year-old man was accused of public intoxication and resisting arrest after dancing in the street along a row of bars called "the strip," said Hartin. Hartin said the three were arrested after an officer on dinner break saw images from the camera on TV and notified headquarters, which sent officers to the area.
Chris Ellis, a spokesman for the state trooper office in Tuscaloosa, said the camera was being used for surveillance after a report that a man had exposed himself. "Our officer was absolutely not inappropriately following young women," Ellis said. "The trooper was using the camera to monitor traffic and some type of criminal activity." Ellis, who refused to identify the trooper, said no disciplinary action was planned.
But Joe Robinson, director of the city transportation department, said he was frustrated and angry over what he saw as the misuse of the camera, one of 31 traffic monitors in Tuscaloosa. "This certainly is not what our cameras were intended for," Robinson said. "We have worked long and hard to get this program up and going and get it to the public for information purposes."
The city has disabled troopers' ability to control the cameras, he said. Bryan Fair, a professor of constitutional law at Alabama, said the incident appeared to have more to do with the misuse of government property than civil liberties. "Clearly, that camera wasn't designed to zero in on young coeds," he said. "If it is for traffic purposes, then it should be used as such and not for the self-gratification of a trooper."
18 October 2003, South Carolina: Bar defends use of men's room camera, written by E.J. Schultz.
A security camera installed in the men's bathroom at Vic's Tavern was put there to protect against vandalism and did not violate anyone's privacy, says the owner of the Hilton Head Island bar in a response to a lawsuit filed by two bar patrons. The patrons, Pawey Suchocki and Vince Bryant, are seeking $200,000 each for invasion of privacy and $200,000 each for infliction of emotional stress.
A surveillance tape recorded Suchocki, of Hilton Head, ripping the camera from the wall in late May, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office incident report. The bar owner, Charles S. Cole Jr., claims the camera did not violate the plaintiffs' privacy because it "was in plain view, as evidenced by the fact that Mr. Suchocki stole it," according to the response, filed earlier this month by attorney Tom Finn. The response also states that the camera "was not in a position to record patrons actually using the facilities."
Vic's installed security cameras throughout the restaurant to protect against vandalism, which, according to the lawsuit response, started in spring 2001. The bar owner moved a camera into the men's room this past May because that is where most of the vandalism was occurring, the response states. For example, according to the response, a sink and air freshener were repeatedly ripped off the wall and vandals used knives to carve into the walls of the stall. Vic's is asking the court to dismiss the complaint. The bar also is seeking to be reimbursed for the $500 damage it says was done to the men's room camera as a result of it being ripped from the wall.
4 November 2003, the Philippines: City sets surprise checks on dorms, boarding houses by Christine Mae A. Pelayo.
To guard against hidden cameras and other surveillance equipment, the city government through the Office of the Building Official will conduct surprise inspections in dormitories and boarding houses in Bacolod City. This came after reports disclosed that an instructor in one university in the city installed a surveillance equipment or a hidden camera inside his boarding house's bathroom. Mayor Luzviminda Valdez stressed the need to regulate the facilities inside boarding houses.
"The privacy of a person should be respected such as in hotels. Surveillance equipment should not be installed in rooms because it is an encroachment on privacy," said Valdez. She stressed the adverse motive in the installation of surveillance equipment in the guise of security measures should be determined.
4 December 2003, Pittsford, New York: Pittsford: Girls were videotaped by Dolores Orman.
Videotapes discovered in the alleged pornography case involving a Pittsford Sutherland High School custodian show about 12 unsuspecting female students and staff members in a restroom, a Pittsford school district official said Wednesday. The district suspended head custodian Allen Wemes, 52, a 20-year-employee, on Nov. 26 when he was allegedly found with pornographic material at the school. District officials contacted the Monroe County Sheriff's Office the same day and turned over videotapes and computer disks they had discovered. No charges have been filed as of Wednesday.
"It appears that the videotapes were taken from inside one female restroom at Sutherland high school and that the people on the videotapes were unaware they were being recorded," Superintendent Mary Alice Price said in a prepared statement issued Wednesday. "This includes approximately 12 students and staff members."
Price indicated that she didn't release those details in her initial announcement Monday about Wemes' suspension without pay, because the district wanted to notify the "identifiable individuals" on the videotapes and "not compromise the ongoing police investigation." She made more details public Wednesday, according to her statement, "as a result of the assistant district attorney's office preemptive disclosure of information today." Assistant District Attorney Michael Green was featured in a television broadcast segment Wednesday.
District officials have made a sweep of all restrooms and locker rooms in all district buildings and two such sweeps were done at Sutherland, Price said. "Let me assure parents, students and staff that their safety is of our utmost concern." Nancy Wayman, district spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the district would have counselors on standby for students and staff if they need them.
[...] Monroe County District Attorney Howard Relin said the sheriff's office has given the case high priority. Relin said he expects the investigation would be wrapped up within the next 10 days or so. The state's recently enacted unlawful surveillance or video voyeurism law makes it illegal to use a mechanical, digital or electronic device to capture the image of another person in a place, such as a restroom or bedroom, where the other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The penalty is up to four years in prison for a first offense and up to seven years in prison for a second.
When a reporter called Wemes' home in Phelps, Ontario County, on Wednesday night, an unidentified woman who answered said Wemes didn't wish to speak to the press and had hired a lawyer.
13 January 2004, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts: High school camera will be shut off today by Erich Luening.
In the wake of public concern over the use of a surveillance camera in the high school, officials have decided to turn the camera off until a written policy on its use is adopted. Martha's Vineyard Regional High School principal Margaret Regan told the school committee last night that starting today the camera will not operate until the committee agrees upon the limits of its use. The move comes at the recommendation of attorneys for the high school, who advised administrators to have a written policy in place that lays out how, when, and where the camera, or future cameras, may be used.
The decision by the principal comes after questions were raised by students and members of the community following the use of the surveillance camera's videotape in an investigation into a threatening prank written in one of the school's girls bathroom last month.
"We consulted our lawyers last week, and their recommendation is that we do not have a written policy," Regan reported to the school committee. "We will disconnect the camera until we do."
The original intent of the camera -- which can be moved to different spots throughout the school, including the cafeteria and other meeting places -- was to identify intruders in the building at night. But the use of the cameras in the investigation into the prank went beyond that initial use and caused many in the community wonder how far the school would go in watching students and faculty.
5 February 2004, Texas City, Texas: Scandal erupted in finalist's former dept. by Alicia Gooden.
Allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced in connection with a second of three finalists vying to become chief of the city's police department. Reports surfaced Monday that job candidate Billy Hammitt resigned as chief of a North Texas department after 13 women filed federal lawsuits against the city alleging numerous sexually related civil rights violations while they were held in the city jail. That lawsuit came to light just days after reports became public claiming acting police chief Anthony Morgan was the subject of sexual harassment or abuse allegations from at least five women over a 10-year period [...]
A U.S. district court judge dismissed all 13 lawsuits for lack of merit, but attorneys for the women said Wednesday they had appealed that ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hammitt was not named as a defendant in the lawsuits, but the documents allege he was ultimately responsible for jail's operations and policies, according to plaintiffs' attorneys. The women allege, among other things, that they were forced to have sex with jailers in exchange for early release. The lawsuits also claim that Hammitt rescinded a policy of issuing female prisoners panties and bras. Instead, they were given one-piece jumpsuits and were forced to expose themselves to video surveillance cameras when using the bathroom [...]
1 April 2004, New York City, New York: Video Of Suicide In Bronx Housing Project Turns Up On Website.
Police said Wednesday they are investigating how a videotape capturing a suicide in a Bronx housing project ended up on a pornographic website. The video shows 22-year-old Paris Lane of Manhattan shooting himself in the mouth. It was recorded on March 16 by a surveillance camera in the Morris Houses in the Bronx. Police say Lane went there to visit his girlfriend and shot himself in the lobby. Lane's family, who asked police for a copy of the tape but were turned down, later saw the shooting online. Now they want to know how the website's owners got the tape.
"At this time we don't know who had possession of the tape," said Charles Robinson, the attorney for Paris Lane's estate. "These are all questions that we will find the answers to, and you can be sure that when we find out who is responsible for it we will hold them accountable."
NYPD investigators have obtained a subpoena that would allow them to find out who operates the website. Meanwhile, the family's attorney says the video has been taken off the Internet.
The Morris Houses are part of the city Housing Authority's VIPER program. The Police Department monitors surveillance cameras in participating developments 24 hours a day in an effort to reduce crime in the projects. The New York Civil Liberties Union is calling on the NYPD to have better supervision over who has access to the tapes.
1 April 2004, New York City, New York: New York Police Seek Leak Of Video. The New York Post.
A confidential police video that shows a young rapper kissing his girlfriend goodbye before blowing his brains out in a Bronx housing project turned up on a porn Web site -- and cops have launched a probe to nail the sicko who leaked it. Aspiring hip-hop performer Paris Lane, 22, put the barrel of a 9 mm handgun into his mouth and pulled the trigger in a lobby of a building at the Morris Houses after the girl got into the elevator. The horrifying scene, just after midnight on March 16, was captured by a surveillance camera monitored by the NYPD anti-crime VIPER unit. While video images from the cameras are not public, the grisly scenario found its way onto a porn site that features scenes of hardcore sex and violence. It appeared under the twisted title of: "Introducing: The Self-Cleansing Housing Projects." Concerned friends alerted Lane's grieving mom Martha Williams, who went online to see for herself.
"I saw my son and I ran out of the room. I knew it was real . . . I had talked to him the night it happened and said 'I love you' and he said, 'I love you more than life itself,' " Williams told The Post. The victim's sister, Tonya, added: "It's disgusting. Disgusting! How somebody could give this tape out?"
A police official said: "The elevator starts going up and a half-second later he pulls something out of his pocket. You see that it's a gun and he puts it in his mouth and then, 'Boom.'"
The family's lawyer, Charles Robinson, said a VIPER cop or computer technician must have posted the scene. The Internal Affairs Division said it had obtained subpoenas in a bid to find the culprit. Paul Dinin, editor of the Atlanta-based porn site, said he is cooperating with police. Some of the site's fans are "wacky, screwed-up people," he added.
Lane's girlfriend Krystin Simmons, 16, said the former Rice HS honor student who rapped under the name "Para Dice" seemed "down and depressed" and told her "he was moving and he would contact me when he got to his destination." Cops said Lane was despondent over the relationship.
1 April 2004, New York City, New York: Suicide video posted on Web by Sean Gardiner.
Police yesterday said they are conducting an investigation to determine how the footage of a suicide taken two weeks ago by a department surveillance camera ended up on a pornographic Web site. The March 16 suicide of Paris Lane in the elevator of the Morris Houses in the Bronx was captured on one of the 200 closed-circuit cameras set up throughout the housing project. Lane, 22, who police say was despondent because his girlfriend was breaking up with him, killed himself with a 9-mm handgun, according to officials. The Morris Houses is one of 15 city housing projects that is part of the Police Department's Video Interactive Patrol Enhanced Response program, said Paul Browne, a police spokesman.
Two days ago, Lane's foster mother, Martha Williams, learned that his suicide was being watched by many in the neighborhood because a video of it had been posted on the Internet. She went to Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields seeking help.
"She was very upset that this had shown up on a Web site, and a pornographic Web site, no less," said Dan Wilson, Fields' spokesman. "She wanted to get some questions answered."
Browne said that officers from the Internal Affairs Bureau confirmed that the Web site's suicide video appeared to be the surveillance camera footage. That footage is stored on a compact disc, which is still in police possession. Browne said Internal Affairs investigators are trying to ascertain how police property got onto the Web site. According to the Web site, the video was posted at 5:49 a.m. March 28. The video of the suicide has since been removed from the site, a hodgepodge of pornographic and crude pictures and videos and a chat room discussing the images. Most of those who submitted comments about the video argued about its authenticity. However, a writer named "Smitty4699" claimed it was "100 percent real, I submitted it, I know the cop who was at the scene."
Browne said that investigators obtained an administrative subpoena for the Web site yesterday and were attempting to obtain the identity of the site's owner as the first step in trying to discover how the police video footage ended up on it.
"It is bad enough that a family has to bury their child after such a horrible occurrence, but to suffer this kind of indignity is outrageous and deplorable," Fields stated in a news release. "We simply must have answers."
1 June 2004, Chicago, Illinois: Child tutor accused of creating child porn.
The director of a tutoring center in Chicago has been charged with manufacturing and possessing child pornography. Sixty-two-year-old James Bradshaw was arrested Saturday. A Cook County judge set his bail yesterday at 75-thousand dollars. Police and prosecutors say Bradshaw operated a sophisticated video surveillance system in the bathroom of the Beverly Instructional Center. They say they've recovered numerous videotapes of children in the bathroom. Police also seized computers from the center. A woman police say lives with Bradshaw told reporters yesterday the cameras were used only to catch people scrawling graffiti in the bathroom.
1 June 2004, Chicago, Illinois: Child tutor accused of creating porn, by Stefano Esposito and Lucio Guerrero.
It began Saturday, when a man picking up his 12-year-old daughter from a Beverly tutoring center noticed a peculiar flashing red light inside the center's only bathroom. The man looked closer and saw what appeared to be a surveillance camera hidden within an exhaust fan, the man later told Chicago Police. Now, Beverly Instructional Center's director, a 62-year-old man who has tutored Chicago kids of all ages for 30-plus years, has been charged with manufacturing and possessing child pornography.
On Monday, as worried parents called police to try to find out more details about the arrest, Cook County Judge Matthew Coghlan set James H. Bradshaw's bail at $75,000. Police had arrested Bradshaw on Saturday. Police and prosecutors say Bradshaw operated a sophisticated video surveillance system in the center's bathroom, and they have recovered numerous videotapes, some of which include youths masturbating. Investigators have identified the daughter of the man who discovered the surveillance apparatus as one of those caught on tape.
Some of the titles of the videotapes included: "Bathroom," "Rear room," and "Bad kids," according to court documents. Among the 11 computers police seized from the center, located in the 2200 block of West 95th Street, is Bradshaw's laptop computer. It allegedly contained numerous child pornographic images, some with children as young as 2 years old, prosecutors said.
And in an Internet autobiography, Bradshaw candidly details his struggles with rage, and the fact that he is "obsessive compulsive" and a "recovering batterer." "Hi I'm Jim: I'm a co-dependent, toxic shame-based, adult child of an alcoholic, and as such, I'm powerless over my emotions, my actions and my reactions," writes Bradshaw on a site that is linked to his Beverly tutoring school Web site.
To date, investigators have nothing linking the computer images to the bathroom videos, nor do they have evidence that Bradshaw molested any children -- but they haven't ruled it out. "The whole thrust of the investigation is whether [Bradshaw] physically had acts with any of the children," Chicago Police Lt. David O'Callaghan said Monday. And police don't yet know how long the video camera operated, although they suspect at least several months, or how many students' activities were recorded. One police source said, "It's going to be a major, major case."
Bradshaw has spoken briefly to investigators, but not about the cameras or the computer images, police said. A woman police say lives with Bradshaw told reporters Monday that the cameras were used only to catch people scrawling graffiti in the bathroom.
Shauna Boliker, who heads the Cook County state's attorney's sex crimes division, said Monday the investigation could be lengthy and delicate. Investigators plan to talk to the 12-year-old girl today. "We want to do it in the most sensitive way we can," Boliker said.
Meanwhile, in Beverly, the tutoring center was closed Monday. Peering inside, a passerby could see racks of children's books, ceiling tiles torn down, and wires dangling from the ceiling. Papers were strewn all over the floor. A sign on one inside wall near the bathroom reads: "Smile. You are on candid camera" [...]
5 June 2004, Arizona: 2 at casino fired for breast photos: Dealers, customers pictured, by John Stearns, The Arizona Republic.
Two members of Fort McDowell Casino's regulatory office were fired last fall because one man used casino surveillance cameras "to photograph the breast area of patrons and employees" and the other, his supervisor, condoned the action, according to state documents released this week.
"It was an unfortunate, appalling incident," Edward Roybal, executive director of Fort McDowell's Tribal Gaming Office, said Friday. He added that the tribe took swift corrective measures when the actions were revealed. Most of the women who were photographed were employees, primarily card dealers, said Roybal, a lawyer whom the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation hired earlier this year to tighten its Tribal Gaming Office operations. Roybal said he believes all the photographs have been destroyed, but he couldn't guarantee it. Donald N. Alfieri, a gaming inspector at the casino, and his supervisor, Merlin Jones, the compliance manager and later acting executive director of the Tribal Gaming Office, were fired last fall.
Alfieri, 59, could not be reached Friday, but in a state Department of Gaming investigative report he denied taking inappropriate photos. He said in the report that photos he took were of dealers not wearing badges, adding that photos he took were ordered as part of investigations.
Reached Friday, Jones, 44, denied condoning Alfieri's behavior. He said the state's investigation seemed biased and suggested that employees who spoke against him were upset because he had recently implemented stricter work rules. Also, he said, people who would have supported him were not interviewed. Following investigations by the tribe and Department of Gaming, the department this week said it intended to deny Alfieri's state certification to work in the industry. This is essentially a notice of intent to revoke his license. He has 30 days to appeal. He did not appeal revocation of his tribal license. The state also acknowledged the tribe's revocation of Jones' tribal gaming license, agreeing with its action. Tribal members are required only to be licensed by their tribe's gaming office, however the state can recommend denial or approval.
Alfieri is accused of zooming in on female dealers and customers with a "point, tilt, zoom" camera and creating photographs on four printers hooked to the cameras. The action occurred between April and September 2003, according to the state investigative report. It's unknown how many photos were taken, but one female security employee said she witnessed Alfieri take hundreds of photos of employees, the state report said. "[Jones] was aware of Alfieri's conduct but did not take any administrative action to correct this problem," the report said.
In a telephone interview Friday, Jones said he reprimanded Alfieri verbally upon learning of the photographs and told him he'd be fired if it happened again. After more photographs reportedly were taken, someone reported it to the tribe's human resources department and both men were put on leave Sept. 18 pending a tribal investigation. They were fired within weeks. Jones said he reprimanded Alfieri after he saw about 10 to 15 photos of employees, adding that "nothing was risque."
"I gave him a chance basically," Jones said of the warning. "He was a very, very good worker. I guess this was a minor flaw."
Raphael Bear, president of the tribe, said in a written statement: "We deplore the actions of these two former employees and are using this unfortunate incident to reinforce the need for strict compliance with our rules and procedures on the part of all tribal employees. . . . In this instance, wrongdoers were exposed, investigated and punished by tribal authorities." Roybal called it significant that the tribe fired a tribal member. "Mr. Jones had been working toward the [director's] position for years," he added.
Since the investigation, cameras are hooked only to one printer, which has been put under surveillance, he said. A log of prints also is being kept and is subject to inspection.
17 June 2004, Adrina, Michigan: Owner convicted of taping clients -- Danny Eugene Daulton was convicted of eavesdropping with a hidden camera by Dennis Pelham.
A jury quickly decided Wednesday there is a difference between videotaping nude customers in a tanning room and using security cameras at convenience stores or banks. After 30 minutes of deliberations, guilty verdicts in 16 electronic eavesdropping cases were returned in Lenawee County Circuit Court against Danny Eugene Daulton, an Adrian nail and tanning salon owner. Daulton, 47, was arrested after police on Feb. 27 found a hidden camera in the tanning room of Rock-N-Nails on South Main Street and five tapes of customers.
Taping people with a hidden camera in the tanning room was no different than using security cameras at stores, gasoline stations or automatic teller machines, argued defense attorney Judith Varga of Jackson. Ten victims of the hidden-camera taping at Daulton's Rock-N-Nails testified Tuesday they believed they were in a private area when they undressed.
"You don't take your clothes off to go to the ATM. You don't take your clothes off to gas your car," assistant Lenawee County prosecutor Frank Riley responded to Varga's argument. Police led Daulton out of the courtroom Wednesday afternoon and took him to jail after Judge Harvey A. Koselka told him he is now a convicted felon and revoked his $10,000 bond. He was convicted of 16 counts of installing an eavesdropping device. Koselka dismissed 16 additional counts of divulging information from eavesdropping after no evidence was presented that Daulton shared the tapes with anyone. Daulton did not testify during his trial, but Varga argued that witnesses confirmed he talked to many people about thefts at his business.
"In the last two days we have heard the story of a businessman who has been pushed too far," Varga said. Police told him they could not help because there was no evidence to show who was stealing, she said. "He set up his camera and VCR and went after his proof," Varga said. People rarely notice surveillance cameras when they go to a store or bank, Varga said. Several witnesses testified they saw notices posted in the tanning room that said the area was being monitored, she said. "Should the defendant be punished for our neglect if we failed to notice our surroundings?" Varga asked the jury.
"All he had to do was go out to (a hardware store) and buy a lock for $1.98. He locks the door and the problem is solved," Riley responded. "That camera was not for theft protection. That camera was for the theft of privacy," Riley told the jury. The camera was focused on where people would undress and get into his tanning bed, he argued, instead of being aimed at the door of a storage closet in the tanning room. If the camera was for security, he asked, why were tapes that showed nothing but nude tanning customers found hidden behind a refrigerator in Daulton's garage? "You saw the tapes. You know why he kept them," Riley told jurors. "The evidence shows that his reason was his own fun. His own pleasure."
Varga called 10 defense witnesses Wednesday morning in questioning that was often cut short by prosecution objections to testimony about opinions of Daulton's character. Two former customers said they recalled seeing a sign in the tanning room. Diana Wheeler said she began wearing a bathing suit to tan after seeing a notice on a microwave oven door in the room that said the area was being monitored. Roberta Kastel, who said she was a friend and customer of Daulton, recalled seeing a sign about monitoring and assumed there could be surveillance of the room. Another customer, Judy Harper, said Daulton talked with her a couple years earlier about thefts from his business. "He said he had to do something about it," Harper said.
The prosecution's case presented Tuesday included playing tapes of three women aged 18, 20 and 23 who undressed in the tanning room. The tapes were played on a television angled toward the jury and not visible to the courtroom audience that included the three women and most of the other 10 victims who testified. Adrian police said they were unable to identify a number of other people on the tapes. Koselka ordered all the tapes seized by police to be preserved at the Adrian Police Department at least through the appeal process. "They are not to be disclosed to anybody. They are not to be used by anybody," Koselka ordered. Sentencing for Daulton was scheduled for July 20. He faces a maximum two-year prison term for his convictions on charges of installing an eavesdropping device.
2 July 2004, New York City, USA: "Lawyers Sue Over Tapes With Detainees," The New York Times, by Nina Bernstein.
When lawyers from the Legal Aid Society made their way into the federal detention center in Brooklyn in the fall of 2001 to meet with detainees, they said, they were alarmed to see video cameras on the walls. Concerned about the confidentiality of their conversations with their shackled clients -- immigrant detainees who were rounded up after the Sept. 11 attacks -- the lawyers asked whether they were being taped. Prison officials assured them, they say, that the cameras were turned off. But the cameras were running. The federal prison was intentionally recording the lawyer-client conversations in violation of federal law and prison policy, according to a December report by the inspector general of the Justice Department, Glenn A. Fine. Now, in a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn yesterday against the retired warden of the detention center and other prison officers, six of the lawyers are seeking thousands of dollars in damages for the secret videotaping of their conversations at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
"Surreptitiously taping attorney-client communications is a direct attack on the role of counsel and on these Legal Aid attorneys' well-established constitutional rights," said Nelson A. Boxer, a partner of the Dechert law firm, who is representing the lawyers without fee. The plaintiffs are seeking damages under a federal statute that prohibits electronic eavesdropping without court approval and sets $10,000 for each violation. They have agreed to donate any money award to the Legal Aid Society, they said.
Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said she could not comment on the lawsuit, which cites the former warden, Dennis W. Hasty, and unknown prison officers as defendants. Mr. Hasty did not return calls, and Michael Martinez, a lawyer who represents Mr. Hasty as a defendant in another lawsuit, said he could not speak to the charges because he had not seen the lawsuit yet. Ms. Billingsley said the bureau is still conducting its own administrative investigation, begun about three months ago when the Justice Department decided not to prosecute any of its employees for their actions.
One plaintiff in the new suit, Olivia Cassin, noticed a video camera at her meetings in December 2001 with Purna Raj Bajracharya, a Nepalese citizen who had been held in solitary confinement at the center since Oct. 25. Except for a visa violation, the only reason for his detention was that he had videotaped a building in Queens that, unknown to him, had an F.B.I. office on 3 of 12 floors. The F.B.I. officer who had helped arrest him had already cleared him of all suspicion.
The lawyers said their suit in part reflects frustration with the Justice Department's failure to hold anyone accountable for violations documented by its own inspector general in reports issued last year. The December report cited more than 40 examples in which lawyers' conversations with clients had been recorded, and concluded that the taping violated the law and interfered with the detainees' access to legal counsel. The tapes of confidential conversations between lawyers and clients were among more than 300 recovered by the inspector general's investigators only after one prison official had ordered them destroyed and others had denied their existence for months. Many tapes, the report said, showed federal officers physically mistreating detainees. But except for a handful of pictures used in the December report, no videotapes have been made public, and no one has been punished.
"If the Justice Department is not going to defend the Constitution, then we will," said Bryan Lonegan, one of the plaintiffs. In explaining a decision not to prosecute anyone, a spokesman for the United States attorney's office in Brooklyn, Robert Nardoza, has said, "There was not sufficient evidence, mainly because all the witnesses had been deported and were unavailable."
Mr. Lonegan said that explanation amazed him. "Here is an officer of the Department of Justice, who has declined to prosecute another officer of the Department of Justice, who has committed crimes documented by another officer of the Department of Justice, because yet another officer of the Department of Justice has deported the witnesses," he said. "And you have to ask, where is the justice in that?" So far the Legal Aid Society has been stymied in its efforts to obtain the tapes of its own lawyers' conferences with detainees under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Lonegan added. It first requested the tapes last January from the office of the inspector general, but was directed to the Bureau of Prisons instead.
Originals or copies of all the tapes cited in the reports have been kept by the office of the inspector general, Paul K. Martin, the deputy inspector general, said yesterday. But according to department regulations, he added, the Bureau of Prisons can determine whether to release them. In a letter this week, the bureau told Legal Aid, which is struggling financially, that it would first have to pay $70,500 for research costs. "There is no evidence that releasing the information to you will contribute significantly to the understanding of the general public at large of how the Federal Bureau of Prisons operates," the bureau said in refusing to waive a fee.
29 July 2004, Norfolk, England: Inquiry into secret filming by Chris Bishop.
West Norfolk Council is under investigation for secretly filming one of its employees, it emerged yesterday. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal is set to look into the case of former community development team leader Gary Howman. Mr Howman, who had 11 years' unblemished service with the council, was sacked for gross misconduct in March after secret cameras caught him breaking a key. But insiders said Mr Howman had come under the suspicion of his bosses after a spoof press release was sent to the media in December claiming the council had cancelled Christmas. The author of the document, signed Father Christmas, has never been revealed. Mr Howman was reinstated by an appeals board in April but friends say he has been told to stay at home on full pay since then. Documents seen by the EDP state the tribunal will determine whether a warrant to install a hidden camera in Mr Howman's office was correctly obtained in the first place.
A council insider said: "The bosses are fuming but they have to co-operate. Several high-ranking officers and one important councillor have been named in the complaint and must now prepare themselves for the investigation and hearing."
Tribunal officials could not be contacted to comment on the likely timescale for their inquiries. The tribunal, which is overseen by the Home Office, normally investigates alleged abuses of surveillance guidelines, such as telephone tapping by the security services. Ray Harding, the council's acting chief executive, confirmed the investigation was under way. "We have received correspondence from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal stating they have received a complaint against us and we are currently assisting them with their inquiries," he said.
27 August 2004, Ithaca, New York: "Landlord accused of setting up video cameras in college students' apartment." The Associated Press.
A college student called police after discovering a pinhole camera in the bathroom of the apartment she shared with three women, and now her landlord is charged with unlawful surveillance. David A. Church, 44, of Ithaca, faces four counts of unlawful video surveillance, a felony that can draw up to four years in prison. Church owns several rental properties near Cornell University. Police said they searched two other apartments and found two pinhole cameras and several video recordings of at least four students. Friends told local reporters that the university relocated the victims, who were members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
27 August 2004, Ithaca, New York: Landlord accused of filming women: Spy cameras hidden in bathrooms. By Roger Dupuis II and Andrew Tutino.
An Ithaca landlord was charged with videotaping female tenants without their knowledge after police found surveillance equipment in two of his rental properties this week. Police charged David A. Church, 44, of 307 College Ave. No. 1, Ithaca, with eight counts of second-degree unlawful surveillance, a class E felony, in connection with incidents at two of his Ithaca properties. The incidents took place from May 2003 through this week, court documents said. The news shocked the Cornell University campus, where some of the tenants were students.
"I am deeply troubled and concerned about the allegations that a landlord in Ithaca has grossly violated the privacy of his tenants, a number of whom are Cornell students," Cornell University President Jeffrey Lehman said. "The safety and well-being of our students is of the highest importance to us." Tommy Bruce, Cornell's vice president for media and community relations, said the university is providing support for student tenants who have chosen to leave Church's properties.
In court documents obtained Friday, Church is recorded as having admitted to setting up video cameras in two of his rental properties, at 404-406 University Ave. and 108 E. Yates St. The women have not been publicly identified. Numerous attempts to contact Church Friday were unsuccessful On Friday afternoon, a mattress and other household items could be seen stacked against the wall on a front porch at the University Avenue house, and two young men there appeared to be moving things.
Susan Murphy, vice president for student and academic services at Cornell, convened a crisis management task force on Friday to handle issues of emergency housing, finances and legal issues, as well as provide psychological support, according to a Cornell statement.
While they were executing a search warrant at his College Avenue apartment early Wednesday morning, Church apparently told police that he hid a camera in the bathroom of one of the apartments and later moved the camera to a different apartment's bathroom during the past year, according to court documents.
"You watched it in real time?" an Ithaca police officer -- unidentified in court documents -- asked. "Yes," Church said. "I hooked up the Sony Handicam to the pinhole camera and watched while it was happening. I later edited out the dead stuff, where nothing was going on, when I dubbed the tape to VHS. I know that sounds bad." During the interview with police, Church said he started taping at the Yates Street apartment in November 2003, and at the University Avenue apartment in March or April of 2004. Church identified some of the victims during his police interview, expressing remorse about his actions, according to court documents.
"I owe an apology to those girls," Church said. "What I did was wrong. I betrayed their trust. They're people that pay me." Church told police that he was not actively taping the women any longer.
A current tenant at 404 University Ave. found the camera on Wednesday and alerted police, which touched off an investigation and search of Church's properties. The police recovered two pinhole cameras and numerous video recordings as a result of the search. The investigation is continuing and additional charges are pending.
New law used Police charged Church under a relatively new law, passed last year by the state Legislature. Known as Stephanie's Law, it carries penalties for acts of video voyeurism. The law calls for video voyeurs to be subject to presumptive registration with the New York State Sex Offender Registry.
"There was a real gap in the law that Stephanie's Law addressed," said Heather Campbell, education director at the Advocacy Center in Ithaca. "This wasn't something that was addressed. Acts like this are huge boundary violations." Campbell said the Advocacy Center provides support in cases similar to this one, where a victim was subject to domestic violence, sexual assault or sexual harassment. "The victims could experience feelings of having their privacy violated," she said, adding that she couldn't say whether the Advocacy Center was helping the women involved in the Church case because of confidentiality requirements.
Though this was the first time Ithaca police charged someone under Stephanie's Law, fears of such privacy invasions have existed in the student community for some time, according to Lt. Tim Williams of IPD [...]
25 September 2004, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Resignation Follows Folcroft Wiretaps.
Borough Manager Anthony Truscello has announced his resignation amid an investigation of the use of surveillance cameras to spy on police. Truscello, 67, said Friday that he is resigning effective Oct. 1. He said his decision was sealed Tuesday after about 300 people came to borough hall in support of police privacy.
"To say my resignation is in the best interest of the borough would be a lie," Truscello told the Delaware County Daily Times for Saturday's editions. "The best interest of the borough is my continued work to make life better for borough residents."
The Delaware County District Attorney's Office is investigating Truscello in connection with the installation of the cameras. Truscello has denied wrongdoing, saying he hired a firm to install the surveillance devices to protect the borough's interests. He maintains that any surveillance was conducted because of complaints he received about police. Those complaints included concerns about a lack of a police presence, as well as claims that officers told residents to file private complaints and that some were sleeping on duty.
"I was doing my job," he said.
With the exception of one officer who is no longer on the force, Police Chief Ed Christie says there have been no complaints about officers sleeping on the job in two years. A private investigator hired by Christie found several pinhole cameras placed in smoke detectors -- one in a hallway, one in the squad room and one in the evidence room. One of the cameras had a microphone installed in it, making it capable of eavesdropping, according to an affidavit filed by county detectives in May.
24 February 2005, New York, New York: Did NYPD Cameras Invade A Couple's Privacy? Was It Appropriate Use Of Surveillance Equipment? CBS 2 News.
CBS 2 has obtained a videotape that the New York City police department doesn't want you to see. It shows cops on surveillance just before last year's Republican Convention in Manhattan. But it is what they were checking out that is a little disturbing.
August 27, 2004, just before the Republican National convention a police helicopter hovers over the East Village covering the critical mass ecological protest supporting more bicycle use. Hundreds are arrested. The police helicopter is equipped with an infra red camera which records images by how much heat is given off, thereby enabling police literally to see in complete darkness. The police dutifully survey the area, but then they focus on a couple in a passionate embrace kissing and fondling each other on a roof top terrace. The police infra scope stays on the scene for a while and then pulls away, but then it comes back a second time to watch the couple and then a third time. However, it must be said that the couple is in complete darkness only an infrared thermal detecting camera could see this scene. The police scope then comes back to follow the woman and the warm footprints of her bare feet.
CBS 2 tracked down and showed the video to the man in the embrace, music company owner Jeff Rosner.
"I feel my privacy was invaded. We were on top floor nearest tall building is 2 blocks away and I have trees," says Rosner. The woman in the police sights was too embarrassed to talk to CBS 2. "She was concerned we were caught in a more embarrassing moment," says Rosner.
CBS 2 also showed the tape to the National Lawyers Guild. One of its members arrested during the critical mass demonstration obtained the video for the criminal case against her.
Meanwhile, what does the New York City police department say about the video? After mulling over its response for 24 hours and all CBS 2 got out of police headquarters was a no comment. So we cannot answer if the police department considers this appropriate use of high-tech equipment. We cannot answer if the police helicopters will in the future try to videotape and save New Yorkers making love on rooftops in complete darkness. They are hidden except for the NYPD's infra red scope in helicopters hovering 500 feet above.
21 April 2005, San Francisco, California: SF cop who reportedly ogled women is suspended for 9 months Bay City News.
A San Francisco police officer has been suspended from the department for nine months for reportedly using surveillance cameras to ogle women at San Francisco International Airport, according to a spokesman with the San Francisco Police Commission. Officer William Rossi received the maximum penalty, short of termination, Sgt. Joe Reilly said today.
"That's three-quarters of a year's salary. That's a big hit," Reilly said. Officer Rossi is also being penalized for reportedly writing derogatory sexual slurs on a police lieutenant's helmet. "The commission was extremely upset with his use of the slur language," Reilly said.
Rossi was supposed to be patrolling airport roads and parking lots during his Feb. 29, 2004 shift, when he reportedly used the airport's closed-circuit television system to focus on women's breasts and buttocks, police Chief Heather Fong said in charging documents. Rossi allegedly spent a total of three hours manipulating and monopolizing six of the cameras, charging documents say. He reportedly ignored coworkers' warnings that he should not be using the cameras, saying "he did not care since he was not assigned to the substation he would not get in trouble," according to the charging documents.
The commission found Rossi guilty of bringing discredit on the department and failing to devote his entire attention to his duties. He was also found guilty of writing derogatory sexual slurs on the lieutenant's helmet on April 25, 2004. Rossi had admitted to the writings but maintained they were meant to be a joke, charging documents say. If Rossi is found guilty of violating any other rules or regulations within the next five years, he will be terminated from the department, Reilly said.
26 April 2005, Atlantic City, New Jersey: Four more casino surveillance operators accused of ogling customers by John Curran, Associated Press.
Four more surveillance camera operators at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino used the equipment to ogle women, according to a complaint filed Tuesday. In December, the same casino was fined $80,000 for similar incidents involving two other camera operators who trained their eye-in-the-sky cameras on low-cut blouses and revealing clothing instead of craps games and slot parlors.
The hidden cameras, required by law in New Jersey casinos, keep tabs on all aspects of casino floor operations as a way to deter and prosecute theft, embezzlement, cheating and other crimes. Typically, they're tucked into ceilings and camouflaged by dark glass, allowing camera operators to surreptitiously zoom in close on activities below.
According to the new complaint, filed by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, Caesars employees James Doherty, Donald Smith, JohnPaul Arambulo and Robert Swan aimed their cameras on "selected parts of the anatomy" of female gamblers and employees while working graveyard shifts over a three-day period in October. Doherty, a shift supervisor, allegedly used two cameras to view women's anatomies, in violation of state casino law. What the cameras saw was recorded on 64 minutes of videotape, giving Division of Gaming investigators the evidence they needed to file complaints with the state Casino Control Commission. Smith, a surveillance operator working under Doherty, allegedly captured 95 minutes' worth of unauthorized footage, while Arambulo and Swan's cameras recorded 16 minutes and 11 minutes' worth, respectively, according to the complaint filed by Deputy Attorney General R. Lane Stebbins. Chuck Davis, a spokesman for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, would not elaborate on the allegations in the 13-page complaint.
In a 2001 case, two women told the state Division of Civil Rights that they were fired by Caesars after complaining about voyeuristic camera work by surveillance department co-workers, who they said looked for low-cut necklines or revealing clothing on women playing at table games or riding escalators. Caesars paid $95,000 to settle that complaint, which was filed with the state Division of Civil rights.
"Obviously, we take this kind of issue very seriously," said Robert Stewart, spokesman for Caesars Entertainment, which owns the casino. "We have not yet had the benefit of seeing the complaint. We will be conducting a through investigation of this alleged incident and will be dealing with the matter appropriately."
The Casino Control Commission will consider the complaint and give the named parties a chance to respond and request a hearing. Davis would not say how big a penalty the Division of Gaming will push for. Given the prior incident, which led to an $80,000 fine for the casino, a $500 fine for one of the operators and a license suspension for the other, it is likely to be substantial.
"It's really premature to discuss any of that," said Daniel Heneghan, spokesman for the Casino Control Commission. No hearing has been set yet, he said.
18 May 2005, New York City: So-Called "Skirt Cam" Found Under Subway Grate On Upper East Side.
Police found a so-called "skirt cam" under a subway grate at 88th Street and Lexington Avenue Tuesday afternoon after a woman called police saying she had noticed suspicious wires protruding from the grate as she passed by. Police closed off the street, fearing the device was a bomb, but soon realized it was a four-inch multi-media camera recording and pointing upward. The camera had an external hard-drive, making it possible for recordings to be broadcast on television and downloaded onto the internet. Police do not consider the camera to be a threat to public safety, but rather a threat to privacy.
Some passersby in the neighborhood who spoke to NY1 said they would think twice before ever walking over a grate again.
"It's pretty awful. It really is," said one woman. "I think that I walk over that every single day, but she actually wears skirts more than I do. I happen to have one on today. I'm so glad that I was wearing pants [the rest of the time.]"
"It's really weird that people would actually do this," said a young girl. "I think it's disgusting."
"I generally don't walk on grates," said another woman, who said she definitely won't be walking over grates from now on.
Police sources say investigators are looking into the possibility the camera was installed by MTA workers. The California company that manufactures the camera says it will work with police to trace the camera back to its owner using the serial number.
A few years ago, Governor George Pataki signed a law making "video voyeurism" a felony offence in New York State, meaning the person responsible for installing the camera could face up to seven years in prison if convicted.
2 August 2005, Newark, New York: Newark cop resigns after illegal surveillance charge, by Patrick Flanigan, Democrat and Chronicle.
An 11-year veteran of a Wayne County police department resigned Monday, two days after he was arrested on suspicion of using a spy camera to photograph girls changing clothes in a Greece shopping mall. Robert Steven Ross, 38, of Newark, Wayne County, was charged Saturday with felony second-degree unlawful surveillance. Ross was charged after a teenage girl identified him as the man who placed a camera, which was inside a shoe, beneath the door of a dressing room at The Mall at Greece Ridge Center where she and a friend were trying on clothes. Ross is free on $1,000 bail. He was immediately put on unpaid leave at the Newark Police Department, where he worked as a narcotics investigator, and he submitted his resignation Monday, said Chief Richard Bogan.
Bogan said Ross' former colleagues were in a state of disbelief. In his years on the force, Ross never displayed any behavior that would suggest he could be arrested on such charges, Bogan said. "When I told his partner, he was convinced it was an April Fool's joke," Bogan said. "When the guy who works with him every day can't believe it, that shows you how unbelievable this is to everybody else." But Bogan said the officers are "moving on" and believe Ross' resignation was necessary.
Saturday's incident was not Ross' first turn in an unflattering spotlight. In 1999, a federal jury found that Ross used excessive force while arresting a farmworker, who was awarded $152,000 in damages. The Haitian man's neck was broken during the arrest, and the jury determined that Ross violated the man's civil rights. But Bogan said the department found no wrongdoing on Ross' part and no internal discipline was administered. In fact, Ross was later promoted to narcotics investigator and earned citations of merit for his work, Bogan said.
Newark Mayor Peter Blandino, who said he knew Ross well enough to exchange greetings on a first-name basis, said he was also "surprised, disappointed and saddened" by the latest allegation. "I just feel very, very sad for Steve and his family," said Blandino, who called Ross an excellent police officer. "If this is true, it's just a very bad situation that he's put himself in."
Greece police Lt. Steve Wise said officers who arrested Ross seized a small digital camera, which has been sent to forensic specialists to determine whether any images were obtained under illegal circumstances. He said the girls are about 14 and 15 years old. Wise described the camera as about the height and width of four nickels stacked on top of each other with a lens the size of a pen point. It was placed inside a shoe with a hole in it. Bogan said Ross had access to a camera like that in his role as a narcotics investigator. The Police Department has such cameras, and they are also available to officers through the Wayne County District Attorney's Office and other law enforcement agencies that cooperate with village police. But he also noted that small surveillance cameras are easy to obtain on the open market.
22 December 2005, New York, New York: "Police Video Caught a Couple's Intimate Moment on a Manhattan Rooftop," Jim Dwyer, The New York Times.
A man and woman who shared an intimate moment on a secluded, dark rooftop one August night last year have learned that they were secretly watched, an intrusion made possible by increased police surveillance of protest rallies and other events and also by advanced technology intended to fight terrorists. That night, police officers tracked bicycle riders moving through the streets of the Lower East Side from a custom-built, $9.8 million helicopter equipped with optical equipment able to display a license plate 1,000 feet away. With the night vision of the helicopter's camera, and permission to make videotapes, an officer also recorded nearly four minutes of the couple on the terrace of a Second Avenue penthouse.
"When you watch the tape, it makes you feel kind of ill," said Jeffrey Rosner, 51, one of the two people. "I had no idea they were filming me -- who would ever have an idea like that?"
The tape, broadcast earlier this year by WCBS-TV news, was made on Aug. 27, 2004, just before the Republican National Convention. That night, several thousand bicycle riders arrived for a group ride that did not have a permit. The helicopter followed the riders but turned the camera on the couple. High above Second Avenue, they seemed to be shielded from view by a wall of shrubs and the nearly total darkness. The police camera, however, included special thermal-imaging equipment that yielded distinct, if ghostly, images.
Mr. Rosner, a music business executive who owns the penthouse, said he remembered a police helicopter hovering overhead, which he assumed was only monitoring the throng of bicycle riders below.
"I'm very happy about cameras in public spaces," Mr. Rosner said. "If you're in a public space doing something inappropriate, I'm all for that. But if I'm in my house and you're using multimillion-dollar equipment to film me, not at all."
Eileen Clancy, a forensic video analyst, observed that the scene was disclosed only because the same tape included images from the mass bicycle ride and had to be turned over for the trial of a rider.
Mr. Rosner has filed a complaint with the Police Department through his lawyer.
Asked about the incident, Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the department, said: "Aviation routinely checks and sometimes videotapes rooftop activity when someone's in a position to throw projectiles at officers below. In this instance, the officer was instructed afterward to terminate taping once it was determined a threat did not exist."
Mr. Rosner said the woman on the roof with him did not want to be identified or discuss the events. He said he was relieved the tape did not include even more personal moments."I am usually in favor of surveillance," Mr. Rosner said. The issue, he said, is "more the sensibility that the police think it's O.K. that they do that -- it's about their own professionalism."
10 April 2006, London, England: Heads spy on teachers by Mark Ballard and published in The Register.
Teachers are preparing to protest against surveillance cameras and microphones that are being installed in classrooms across the UK. Surveillance firm Classwatch has installed more than 50 CCTV systems with microphones across the UK, said the Times Educational Supplement on Friday. Draconian headteachers, who have had teachers watched through two-way mirrors as well, grade teachers according to their performance under observation. Occasional observation is necessary to ensure lessons meet quality targets set centrally by the Department for Education and Skills.
But the TES reported on Friday that teachers were being "observed to death", that surveillance was being used as a punishment, that schools were installing CCTV cameras with microphones into classrooms, and that teachers were wilting under the all-seeing Great Eye of Sauron. Class observation was supposed to help teachers improve standards, but it appears to have morphed into surveillance.
Britain's biggest teachers' union, The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, has proposed a conference motion to use "all means necessary" to stop what it called "yet another example of management bullying". The union also disliked the short notice some teachers have been given about the installation of surveillance devices.
12 April 2006, Pittsburgh, Penssylvania: School bus company won't be prosecuted by David Conti, published by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
A school bus company will not be prosecuted for audio-taping students from two local school districts through surveillance cameras on its buses, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said today. State police investigators earlier this year discovered during bus inspections that Laidlaw Transit was capturing audio on its video cameras, which are used to monitor safety. The buses were used by the West Mifflin and McKeesport school districts. State police asked Zappala to determine whether the tapes violate the state's wiretap laws. Zappala said he found no intent to break the law. He also determined that audio-taping on a school bus does not infringe on students' "reasonable expectation of privacy." But in a letter to area school administrators, Zappala outlined rules that school districts must follow to stay within the law. They include adopting a school district policy, notifying parents and posting signs on buses. State Rep. Don Walko, D-North Side, said he will propose legislation that will clarify the wiretap law as it pertains to video- and audio-taping on school buses.