CCTV operators’ duties to response personnel at crime scenes
April 2019, This Week's Editor's Pick, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Security Services & Risk Management
Operators and response personnel interact with each other in a variety of situations. These may include operators notifying the response party of a situation requiring an intervention, or the response parties directing the operator to view a particular situation from their side.
In the past, I have emphasised the importance of the response function (see http://www.securitysa.com/7937a). However, what often does not get considered is that the control room operator often has a responsibility to monitor response scenes that goes beyond the initial detection and response relationship with response officers.
The control room operator has a responsibility to support the response personnel who arrive on site in a number of ways. This includes protection of the response party, whether through notifying them of possible physical threats, or reputational threats and allegations.
Where criminals are caught red handed, often the only way to get out of the situation is to accuse the response personnel of infringing their rights, or turning the focus on alleged violations by the response personnel. This tactic of deflecting the focus away from the crime onto the response personnel can be used surprisingly often. Where operators have the capacity to display a clear audit of response officer behaviour, it is an essential method of protection.
In other situations, response personnel may be focused on their engagement with a particular party, especially where someone is injured or there is a direct threat from an aggrieved party. Operators under these conditions may have to notify the response personnel of dangers beyond the current vison or focus so they can take appropriate action.
Besides protection of response personnel, extended operator viewing beyond the immediate response may include monitoring of subsequent perpetrator behaviour which may be used in court, possible involvement of accomplices, and the condition of victims who may have been affected. This is essentially additional evidence gathering which can be used to supplement the initial detection and have an impact on prosecution or sentencing.
Getting good identification of bystanders for possible later access for information would also be of benefit. Operators may also follow up on possible issues like searching for where things like stolen articles have been hidden, or weapons that may have been discarded. There may be further ongoing communication, arranging of help to the response personnel or affected people, and any arrangements to be proactive in anticipating problems and arranging early solutions to possible issues.
Besides assistance, operators also bear a responsibility for ensuring or auditing crime scene management. While this may cause them to come into conflict with the response personnel who are the first-line intervention, where operators see issues relating to the crime scene being affected, they should notify response personnel or, if necessary, liaise with control room management to mediate the possible damage to the crime scene integrity or evidence quality.
It also involves ensuring the all parties adhere to their obligations under these conditions. Taking a wide-angle view of the area to verify all people entering or leaving the scene may be important in being able to account for what happened subsequent to the event occurring.
The role of the operator definitely does not end with the arrival of a response officer to the scene of the event. There are various activities that can be done by the CCTV operator that assist and complement the response function. This includes support of various kinds, verification of various factors, auditing of processes, and gathering and logging additional information that could be used for further investigation or intelligence.