surveillance program

School Bus Surveillance Cameras Curb Misbehavior

Video surveillance on Copperas Cove school buses continues to reduce suspensions and school violence. Transportation Director Gary Elliot said the school district has seen a decline in school bus-related incidents compared to last year, with only 30 suspensions so far this year. “Those are very, very low numbers,” Elliot said. “We usually have right around 100 (suspensions) around this time. The cameras are a big part of it, because the students know they’re being videotaped.” The surveillance program was discussed at a Dec. 9 school board workshop. “Those cameras make discipline on buses easy,” Trustee Jim Copeland said. All 68 of the district’s route buses are fitted with Gatekeeper surveillance cameras and one-third of those are infrared capable, which Elliot said helps during early morning hours when it is still dark outside. Students can be suspended from school bus transportation for several major infractions, including bullying, fighting and constant use of profane language. With every bus incident, a referral is written and at least two staff members review the video footage before taking appropriate action. Copperas Cove High School senior Kelseigh Fife recalled a time when the surveillance cameras captured an incident on the bus. “(The camera) did help me. It got somebody in trouble that physically hurt me,” Fife said. “I did feel safer and I didn’t have any problems after that.” Fife and Elliot said the cameras deter most students from violating bus rules. “I think that it showed other people, once the cameras were on the […]

American Cities Installing Ominous Surveillance Tech Despite NSA Scandal

American cities installing ominous surveillance tech despite NSA scandal Never mind the negative press the NSA has received in recent weeks after Edward Snowden began leaking top-secret documents to the media pertaining to the United States’ spy group’s broadly scoped surveillance programs. Law enforcement agencies and local leaders in major American cities are nevertheless signing on to install new systems that are affording officials the power to snoop on just about anyone within range. Seattle, Washington and Las Vegas, Nevada are among the latest locales in the US to acquire surveillance tools, the likes of which were both discussed in regional media reports over the weekend that are making their rounds across the Web and causing privacy advocates around the world to raise their voice. Neither West Coast city has announced plans to acquire telephone metadata or eavesdrop on email traffic, and combined their operations likely pale in comparison to what the NSA has accomplished. Civil liberties activists are sounding the alarm regardless, however, after new reports revealed what kind of information city officials could collect using newly installed equipment. In Seattle, a city of around 635,000, the police department recently used a Department of Homeland Security grant for $2.6 million to purchase and put up a number of wireless access devices that together create “mesh networks” which law enforcement officials can connect to and in turn more quickly share large chunks of data, such as surveillance camera recordings and other high-res information. Those access points, or APs, do […]

ACLU Push Will Put Privacy In Public Eye

MONTPELIER — From the proliferation of license plate readers to the installation of face-identification software at the Department of Motor Vehicles, state and local government in recent years has invested significant sums of money in technology that can be used to track citizens. Now one Vermont organization is saying enough is enough and will launch a campaign next week aimed at illuminating the scope of taxpayer-funded surveillance activities that have cropped up in the wake of 9/11. The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will unveil a report Tuesday highlighting the evolution in recent years of the state’s information-gathering apparatus. As the organization says in a YouTube video released this week announcing its efforts, “We used to be a state where both the notion and the reality of privacy were true.” “But over the last dozen years, Vermont has been transformed into a state where we’re being watched,” the video says. Allen Gilbert, executive director of the ACLU of Vermont, said residents here have largely been caught off guard by the cumulative effect of the new technologies. “Many of these have crept in rather slowly, and I don’t think anyone realized the scope of the individual pieces, and the power of the system when all those pieces are aggregated,” Gilbert said. Components of the state and federal surveillance program include: license plate readers that aggregate driver data for use by law enforcement personnel; cellphone-tracking technology that allows police, often without a warrant, to determine the location of […]