City Chooses Dummy Cameras to Secure Government Building

Author: Carlton Purvis, Published on Apr 25, 2014

After a Massachusetts city’s government complex added one dozen cameras, the local newspaper questioned where they came from. What they found was surprising.

The Herald News in Fall River, Massachusetts saw more than a dozen cameras added to a government building overnight. Reporters thought it was suspicious that there were no wires coming from the cameras. Blinking lights on all of the cameras also seemed out of the ordinary.

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Comments (15)

You know what they say.... dummy is as dummy does.

There are numerous court cases that have been won by victoms of crime because of dummy cameras creating a false sense of security. This being a government building; they should know better. Hope they fix this before something happens.

Donna, can you please share any of those court cases? We've been looking and asking people for them for a while and have not yet found them.

The most famous 'case' turned out to be a myth - Rape Under A Dummy Camera - Is This A True Story?

Donna, Please please share. I run into customers all the time that use fake cameras, It would be great to have this kind of fire power.

Hopefully, the city will come clean and it won’t take something bad to happen for people to realize these cameras aren't recording.

Carlton, why do you feel the city should come clean? Are you categorically against the use of dummies, even if supplemental?

Not to interject opinions, but the case law is most often referred to as "inadequate security". There are hundreds, if not not thousands of verdicts that have been handed down over the years, covering a broad spectrum of security lapses. Case law has long established that a visitor or passerby has a reasonable expectation that if there is a security camera on your premise, it is in good working order and is being monitored. "Being monitored" can be interpreted as recorded. Finding a reference specifically for dummy cameras will not be easy, but an easy and intelligent arguement can be made against them.

Case law has long established that a visitor or passerby has a reasonable expectation that if there is a security camera on your premise, it is in good working order and is being monitored...

I think at this point in the fruitless search for any actual cases, you would be a hero if you could cite any cases, of those thousands, where the camera being broken or the camera not being monitored was the sole and sufficient cause for a ruling, regardless if 'dummies' are mentioned or not.

Mark, I've looked at a lot of cases. So far, the pattern I see is that physical security deficiencies (like broken locks, open doors, cut fences, etc.) create clear liability for businesses / organizations. The rationale judges give is that, if these things worked, then a reasonable chance exists to stop / prevent the crime.

To the contrary, with video surveillance, the judges position in the cases I have read is that they do not believe that even if the camera was on/real/working, that the crime would have been stopped / prevented. Because of this, there is no liability.

Again, there may be hundreds of cases where dummy cameras caused an organization to lose / be liable, but no one has yet been able to show me one. There must be something out there, but it's clearly not as common as industry people claim.

I think that is a common urban myth perpetuated through out the security industry that dummy cams have led to loss in lawsuits. I've seen many a discussion like this and never 1 actually case reference. I think John has it nailed on this one.

I look at this from the other perspective: how many claims or lawsuits could have been prevented by a functioning surveillance system? Slip and fall claims are a great case in point. Dummy cameras cannot be used to determine whether a slip and fall claim is legitimate while recorded video could prove that it is not. I have seen many cases where surveillance video disproved a claimant's complaint.

Keeping with the theme of different perspectives:

I have seen many cases where surveillance video disproved a claimant's complaint...

True, though sometimes after an incident, surveillance system owners actually wish they had installed dummy cameras...

how many claims or lawsuits could have been prevented by a functioning surveillance system?

I wonder if it always more than the number of claims that dummy cameras alone could prevent? And if you think that that's just crazy talk, consider the fact that a pervasive anti-dummy camera bias, as shown by many of those whose livelihood could be negatively impacted by them, may prevent someone from seeing the advantages of a well executed dummy or hybrid strategy. Ironically some of these advantages that have actually increased due to greater adoption of multi-megapixel and extreme wide angle lenses.

Case in point, big box Supermarket A goes with 10 of the latest ceiling mounted 10MP 360 degree domes (do they exist yet?) and has complete and total coverage of the floor. Killer install, writeups in all the rags.

Supermarket B goes all dummy, with 50 boutique styles of various models, with their use and placement and (corresponding faux fov), determined soley by their estimated maximum deterrence value. Total percieved coverage of the floor. No security trade rag writeups, although you may have a shot at the centerleaf of Modern Grocer.

So, yeah, they are right in your face if need be or not if need not, but their deployment is not hampered by such annoyances such as lack of structured cabling, power, focal length, sensor size, poor lighting and glare to mention a few.

Who's to say which one would save more money long term from avoided lawsuits? Maybe you, but not me. And regardless, if you are going spring for option A, why not spend a trivial bit more and get A+B, for the best of both worlds?

Sorry Rukmini, I disagree with you. I'm always amazed at what some people will do, or attempt to do, despite being aware of the presence of cameras. Perhaps they think no one watches or they're not being recorded or ???

Still, bogus slip and fall / trip and fall incidents are committed regularly under full camera coverage. So what happens if the area is covered by dummy cameras? The company or their insurance pays the claim due to lack of contradicting proof. Contrarily, claims are often reduced or eliminated by legitimate camera coverage.

Don't be sorry, you are talking experience, I'm just flapping gums. Though since you did ask, I feel compelled to offer one slight dummy nuance you might not have considered... You said:

So what happens if the area is covered by dummy cameras?

Assuming that the incident happened clearly within the faux fov AND the dummy camera was apparently 'working', then the on duty manager would simply point out the camera, while indicating how fortunate the slipper was for slipping in front of the camera, because now there would no question of them getting what they deserved. Only the store manager can review footage, they would be told, and so 'please come back tommorow, and we will roll tape and file a police report'. My bet is most don't come back, unless they "know" its a dummy, but what do I know? Only what little I have learned here at The Institute for Advanced Hindsight... ;)

They change speed cameras around real and dummy in various locations, Anyone like to test if they are dummy this week?

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