Atlanta to revisit surveillance cameras in city vehicles following employee concerns

‘You’re not going to get a buy-in from the employees unless we’re involved and there’s true transparency’

The Atlanta City Council unanimously decided yesterday against a plan to install surveillance cameras in some city-owned vehicles.

The proposal to launch a 120-day trial program testing the cameras will head back to finance committee after city employees raised concerns over how recorded footage could be used.

The proposed resolution would allow DriveCam, a California-based surveillance company, to install 175 cameras into city-owned vehicles to reduce the city’s claims payouts. City officials told the AJC that claims stemming from collisions have climbed from $840,971 in 2009 to $1.04 million in 2011.

Beyond reducing costs, some city officials think the cameras will prevent employees from using cellphones, encourage them to drive safely, and wear seat belts. The no-cost trial period would allow City Hall to determine the cameras’ effectiveness without incurring upfront costs.

But city employees expressed concerns yesterday that the cameras, which would be installed in vehicles operated by firefighters and the departments of watershed management, public works, fire, parks, and planning and community development, might be wrongfully used to discipline workers. In addition, councilmembers were surprised that a large number of cameras have already been installed and were in use.