City council to decide on video cameras in city vehicles

City council to decide on video cameras in city vehicles

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Atlanta city workers were at City Hall on Wednesday to protest a new initiative that would place cameras in city vehicles to monitor the activities of workers. The Atlanta City Council is being asked to approve a measure that employees complain would leave them with no privacy.

The city says it wants to use the camera to track the driving habits of city workers. Some cameras are already installed, positioned by the rearview mirror.

The camera records abrupt movements of the vehicle. City officials say that if drivers know they are being watched, they are likely to be more careful and accidents could be reduced.

Managers hope to cut costs, which in 2012 amounted to a $2 million hit for repairs and settlements due to injury claims.

But some of the employees say the cameras with two-way lenses could be abused by supervisors.

"Putting a drive cam in to face the employee, to hear their conversation, to do anything that's going on to get the employees -- we are really tired of it," said PACE Union President Gina Pagnotta-Murphy

A veteran Atlanta firefighter points to what he says is creating an unnecessary headache.

"Atlanta Fire and Rescue is blessed with some of the best drivers around. They understand responsibility and the need for safe driving, and our driving record proves it. Atlanta professional firefighters have been flooded with calls from worried employees," said Atlanta Fire Union president Stephen Borders.

The city offered explanations for why the cameras should be used, like improving efficiency. But the fire union president says the city better take another look at it.

"Our drivers and officers that are responding to these emergencies have so many things to focus on, there are so many indicators inside of the truck, there's so many things to take in to account of the emergency that you are responding to. This is one more thing that many have reported as capturing their focus," said Borders.

Council members told the city managers to get together with the union and work something out and bring them back a proposal they can vote on by Monday.

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