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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

CSA concern about transparency in body camera rollout

On November 15th, college security officers began wearing front facing security cameras as they patrolled campus. Increased accountability and transparency along with the cameras’ value as a tool for de-escalation and training were among the reasons cited for the change.

The policy change was announced on November 5th in the Carleton Weekly and on the Carleton College Security Website more than a week before it was implemented. On January 11th, Dean Livingston included an announcement about the new body cameras in a campus-wide email two months after they were introduced.

For members of the Carleton Student Association (CSA), however, these announcements were too little and too late, and betrayed a lack of transparency.

“Overall I think there has been a really big com- munication failure on the part of Security,” Delina Haileab ’22, Vice President of CSA, said. “We really urged them to send out a campus-wide email to communicate the change, and they refused to do that. They thought posting information on the Carleton Weekly and the Security website was satisfactory, but that’s definitely not the case.”

Director of Security John Bermel cited security’s role as the disseminator of emergency information as the rationale for not sending out an update on the policy from security services.

“We send emails for timely alerts and emergency notifications, so we want people to know that if they receive an email from us they need to pay attention because it’s going to directly affect their personal safety or the safety of their property,” Bermel said. “That’s why we chose to use the established college communication.”

CSA members themselves learned of the change during a presentation Bermel gave to the CSA Senate meeting on November 8th, during 9th week of Fall Term. In lieu of what they saw as unsatisfactory communication from the college, the CSA chose to step in. Members decided to include an update regarding the body camera policy—a move they thought was necessary, but outside the prescribed role of the CSA.

“The role of CSA is not to explain Security’s policy changes. This program has been two years in the works,” Rahul Kirkhope ’22, Treasurer of CSA, said. “And for the student body to only hear about this policy change through CSA the week it’s being implemented, is highly problematic.”

With Dean Livingston’s January email, CSA’s update, and simply seeing security officers on campus, it seems likely that the Carleton community is aware that security officers will be wearing body cameras. Yet Haileab believes that the rollout of the body cameras has broader ramifications, undermining the trust, accountability and transparency Security hopes to cultivate with this new policy.

“The way this change was announced, and the fact that CSA had to make that announcement, is concerning on multiple levels,” Haileab said. “If people have questions, if people have concerns, it’s not CSA that they need to be going to, it’s Security they need to be going to. This really undermined both the trust between the student body and Security, and trust between the student body and CSA.”

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