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RMTD buses install audio/video monitoring
Posted By Brandon Reid On April 25, 2012 @ 6:58 am In Local News, News | 1 Comment
By Susan Johnson
Anyone who has ridden the Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD) buses over the last few weeks couldn’t help but notice the new signs at the front of the bus. The inscription “Say Cheese!” is placed over a yellow smiley-face, and below are the words, “For your own safety and security, you may be under audio/video surveillance while on this bus. Your continued ridership constitutes consent to this monitoring.”
To get the story behind the policy, The Rock River Times spoke with RMTD Marketing and Public Relations Specialist Lisa Brown.
TRRT: When was this policy instituted?
Brown: Right now, all the buses have the video. We are in the process of working up audio recording. The 900s [bus numbers] are all complete. In the next month, the entire fleet will have audio and video. The video has been in place a couple years.
TRRT: Had there been any special security problems that might have been the reason for the policy?
Brown: No, it’s just a good move. Most of the fleets throughout the country are moving toward that measure. When we purchased our ’09s, we were able to put the video portion in and update the rest of the fleet, and now we are doing the audio.
TRRT: Have there been any complaints from the public?
Brown: No, not at all. Most people see it as a good thing.
TRRT: What if someone wishes to withdraw their consent? What happens then?
Brown: They would not be riding the bus. People have nothing to fear about this if they are just getting on the bus. If you are making a ruckus, you will have a problem. If you feel that someone is harassing you, that would be a safety measure, or if you feel the driver treated you incorrectly, we would go back and see those videos, and that would be a win-win situation.
TRRT: How much did this equipment cost?
Brown: We have three different [types of] buses in our fleet: the Gilligs, Nabi and New Fliers [manufacturing companies]. The New Fliers were retrofitted with cameras; we bought the buses and added the cameras a few years ago. They cost $7,400 each. The Nabis and the Gilligs — those cameras came as part of the bus. The buses cost roughly in excess of $300,000. It was capital money.
Just in case a legal question should arise, The Rock River Times spoke with Ed Yohnka of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Chicago. We asked him for his perspective on the audio/video monitoring for security.
“I think we find this to be very troubling and problematic legally,” he said. “As you probably know, the entire Illinois Eavesdropping Act has been the subject of a great deal of controversy. One of the issues that’s involved here is, of course, the fact that Illinois is a two-party consent state. There is nothing in the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute that appears to suggest or permit a broad waiver of that claim just on the basis of location. The other important aspect to this is that a public bus — public transportation — is obviously a public accommodation that everyone has the right to use. It’s hard to imagine the government can condition its use on waiving one’s rights to privacy under the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute. There are lots of other issues, too, that would be important here, in terms of, are the cameras and the microphones’ placement clearly marked? Could someone be on the bus and avoid having their conversation recorded? Those are technical questions. The general waiver of one’s rights under the eavesdropping statute is the more critical issue here.”
From the April 25-May 1, 2012, issue
Article printed from The Rock River Times: http://rockrivertimes.com
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