Modern security camera systems can provide convenience, improve investigations of incidents, and — with the vast improvement of cameras and analytic software — can often help prevent incidents. Safe Havens International’s school safety assessment of more than 9,000 K-12 schools and serving as expert witnesses for the largest school security lawsuits the U.S. to date have helped find ways to get even more benefits from school security cameras. While focused on K-12 schools, the concepts discussed can be adapted to other settings such as institutions of higher education, hospitals and hotels.


Camera footage can show employees the correct ways to perform safety duties and is a powerful way to improve the ability of employees to learn while enhancing retention of information presented. Security camera video can be incorporated into multimedia presentations and web courses to create concise, interesting and informative presentations.

For example, one powerful tool to prevent school safety incidents, reduce student conduct violations and to mitigate litigation is a thoughtful and pervasive focus on effective student supervision. Security camera footage of carefully scripted segments depicting effective placement of personnel, wearing high-visibility vests and actively supervising students during morning arrival and afternoon dismissal is one example of how video can be used to prevent tragedies. Traffic fatalities in school parking lots and driveways exceed deaths from violence and cause nine times more deaths than active shooters. Good supervision also reduces the risk of school violence during these high-risk activities. The use of footage from cameras at high levels facing downward can be very helpful for this type of training.

Being able to shows a jury exactly how employees were trained using security camera footage can make it much harder for attorneys and the expert witnesses they retain to claim that personnel weren’t properly trained.


While establishing good procedures and training personnel on how they are to be implemented is extremely important, verifying that actual practice aligns with stated practice is another key to enhanced life safety and risk management. Developing written procedures for periodic spot-checking of how employees follow safety procedures both in person and via security camera spot checks not only clarifies expectations and improves compliance, but also creates powerful documentation.

Camera footage can show employees the correct ways to perform safety duties and is a powerful way to improve the ability of employees to learn while enhancing retention of information presented.”

As an example of how important this can be, numerous lawsuits were filed against a major school bus company after an 18-year driver was arrested for molesting children on his bus. In this case, archived video footage revealed the driver assaulted the students as they waited to leave the bus for 30 days in clear view of the security cameras. The driver knew the cameras were only checked if an incident occurred on the bus, which was rare because he transported kindergarten students. In my experience working many such cases over the years, the driver would likely have sought employment elsewhere if he knew that school bus security camera footage would be spot-checked periodically, making it likely he would be caught if he engaged in this type of behavior.

Spot-checking student supervision, visitor screening, weapons screening, school bus safety practices and other processes and archiving the footage can be a powerful tool to enhance other fidelity testing approaches. While it is important to save footage documenting proper practices, footage depicting employees failing to follow procedures and appropriate corrective action is also important. Utilized properly, this approach can demonstrate above-standard-of-care practices in school safety and create a high degree of credibility for employees and the organization.

These efforts should be detailed in writing, comply with organizational policies and union agreements, and be clearly communicated to employees before being implemented. Employees should be made aware that these efforts are designed to protect them and the organization as well as the people served by the organization. As with body cameras utilized by law enforcement officers, this practice can help disprove false allegations.

Documenting training of personnel with security camera footage combined with periodic fidelity testing clarifies expectations, improves performance of personnel, reduces safety incidents and can create significant barriers to frivolous litigation while preventing loss of public confidence should an incident still occur in spite of prevention measures.