Category Archives: Digital Video Security

GPS and Video Surveillance in School Buses

In Richmond County, Georgia, the  Board of Education wants to install GPS tracking devices and video cameras in the county’s school buses in an effort to make the bus routes safe–or safer–for children.

If installed, parents will be provided with accurate times for pick-up and drop-off, which will enable families to keep better track of their children. Some parents, however, feel that GPS trackers and video cameras may result in stalking and spying. While many parents feel that this new technology is a good idea, some parents feel that video cameras and  may lead to stalking and spying. The parents’ concern is two-fold; it’s unethical to “spy” on children, and they (parents) fear that others may be able to track their children in order to abduct them.

The school district takes a different point-of-view: The buses are state property, and according to Georgia law, schools are allowed to monitor their assets.

The cost of installing a system for the district will run in the range of $40,000; money that the district will have to raise if they wish to install two video cameras and one GPS unit on every bus, and will ask the Richmond County Board of Education to purchase the equipment for 128 buses.

According to WJBF-TV in Augusta, the district’s intent is to install a camera in the aisle and one in the front of the bus, monitoring activity on the bus on a consistent basis.

GPS trackers and cameras will operate when the bus is running, and drivers won’t be able access either piece of equipment,  “but school authorities will be able to view any recorded information at their discretion. The school has attempted to reassure parents by stating that the new equipment is being installed to increase efficiency, and that the school board is not interested in spying on students.”

The umbrella benefit is that bus drivers, responsible for keeping children safe, fall under the scrutiny of the district, ensuring that bus drivers “…are conducting themselves in a professional manner.” Corporations, like UPS, have used GPS trackers to ensure employees stay within company guidelines while using corporate assets.

Do You Need a Nanny Cam?

Adding a nanny cam, or in-home surveillance system, used to be for detecting cases of child abuse or endangerment. However, even if you don’t have any concerns over abuse, an indoor surveillance camera and DVR may provide information on your sitter’s, or children’s, accountability.

As technology’s gotten better, the price for in-home surveillance has actually leveled out, or in some cases, prices have lowered. Nanny cams provide piece of mind for parents who work long hours; often, the wireless recorders can be accessed from a work computer, allowing a parent that misses their child to remain in contact with their child’s life.

Child neglect, or abuse, can happen. Some of the warning signs include unexplained bruises or cuts and fear when the sitter, or nanny, arrives. Fussy, or abnormal outbursts are also cause for concern. A child whose disposition has changed drastically may be a child who is being neglected. If you suspect that something is going on that you are not aware of, no price is too much to pay to ensure your loved-ones safety.

Wireless surveillance, and DVR systems, are easy to set up, and are virtually undetectable.  Even if you don’t expect any foul play, an in-home surveillance system is a way to ensure that your child is safe and those who are in your home while you’re away are accountable for their actions. Even if it means feeding the dog while you’re away on vacation.

In most cases, you’ll find that most people act with responsibility and have good intentions. Yet, a casual view, or review, of home activities while away may lead to behaviors that need to be rewarded or addressed. First-hand knowledge of an activity is always the best evidence, and is much more satisfying than conjecture or second-guessing.

Shoplifter Pays With His Life

Saturday morning came and went, mostly quiet. Mostly. However, in Chicago’s Little Village, a man stole tubes of toothpaste at a CVS Pharmacy and was caught. He paid the ultimate price for his theft; he died after the struggle.

The death, resulting from a CVS employee who chased the shoplifter and held him in a choke-hold, has been ruled an accident. A medical examiner ruled the man’s death death a homicide, stating the shoplifter had been strangled. Chicago police, however, are not charging the employee.

“Why would you kill someone over toothpaste?” exclaimed the man’s ex-wife, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The shoplifter, who had served prison time for drug convictions, was still battling substance abuse according to sources. The man’s family requested a full investigation into the incident, including statements made by witnesses that an off-duty police officer was on the scene.

Chicago Police deny claims that an off-duty officer was identified in witness statements. Other witnesses, asking to remain anonymous, stated that an officer identified themselves and drew a sidearm, pointing it at the downed man, warning him to stop resisting the CVS employee and other men who were holding the struggling shoplifter.

Chicago Police spokesperson stated that by the time officers arrived, the man was unconscious and that there was no evidence of officer involvement. However, surveillance video from a recorder is being reviewed to identify the participants to identify any actions that may have led to the man’s death. The CPD also asked for any other witnesses to step forward and contact detectives.

Initially described as being in serious condition, the shoplifter was declared dead 45-minutes after police arrived.

A CVS spokesman stated that the company was also reviewing video footage.

While security is a problem for many stores in Chicago, causing them to raise the price on various items, toothpaste doesn’t seem to warrant the harsh outcome of this tragic situation. Retailers, outfitted with surveillance equipment and DVRs, still aren’t able to identify, and catch, those that feel the need to steal from the stores.

How to Avoid Being Followed Home

While we don’t want to think about the fact that criminals can follow us from a gas station or shopping mall to our homes, it happens more than one would think. Just last week a 58-year-old Chicagoland businessman was followed home and then severely beaten inside the home as his helpless family was forced to watch.

Abbas Darwish, a convenience store owner, is in fair condition at Good Samaritan Hospital following the April 15th attack. His injuries include broken ribs, a broken nose, and bruised lungs. His wife and two sons were also treated for injuries following the early morning attack.

The police have two men in custody and are looking for four more. While Mr. Darwish and his family are expected to recover, some aren’t as lucky. So, it is always best to be aware of your surroundings and anything that seems to be out of place, whether walking, driving, exercising, etc. as we move into the summer months.

If you think that you’re being followed, there are several precautions to take to keep yourself safe:

  • Frequently check the rearview mirror to see if you are being followed.  If you believe that you are, DO NOT drive home. Instead drive to the nearest police station, fire station or other place of safety such as a crowded parking lot.
  • If you believe you’re being followed but aren’t sure, make three consecutive left hand or right hand turns. If the car is still behind you, DO NOT drive home.
  • Remember it is important to know where you are so police officers can respond if needed. Know your direction of travel.
  • If you have a cellular phone, call 9-1-1. Try to get a good description of the vehicle that is following you including the vehicle’s make, color and license plate number if possible.
  • Don’t stop if the vehicle following bumps your car or otherwise tries to get you to pull over.
  • Do not try to be a hero. Don’t take any action that would jeopardize your own safety.
  • Carry a small camera, use your cell phone camera, or equip your car with a dash cam and record, or take pictures, of the followers.

While statistics show that women are more likely to be followed than men, as evidenced by the above story, it can happen to both men and women. The most important thing to remember is to remain calm, and avoid the instinct to stomp on the gas to get away. The more relaxed and controlled you stay, the greater the likelihood that your followers will grow bored with the “chase;” especially if it is a meandering path to nowhere.