OIG Audit Finds City Could Not Determine Who Accessed Public Safety Cameras and Did Not Establish Operational Objectives for the Cameras

OIG Audit Finds City Could Not Determine Who Accessed Public Safety Cameras and Did Not Establish Operational Objectives for the Cameras

An audit released today by the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) examined the Office of Emergency Management and Communications’s (OEMC) management of approximately 2,700 public safety cameras, as well as its management of access to a broader federated network that includes over 27,000 cameras.

OIG’s audit found that OEMC did not have reasonable assurance that only approved personnel had accessed its public safety camera system and used it appropriately. For example, CPD officers at district stations used group logins at shared computer terminals to access all of the approximately 27,000 cameras in the federated network, and to make directional and focus changes to the 2,683 City public safety cameras that are capable of such adjustment. The audit notes that, in 2012, an OIG investigation of an allegation that an individual manipulated a public safety camera to avoid recording the execution of a CPD arrest was impeded because OEMC was not able to trace camera access and use to a specific person. The risk of such an impediment to both administrative and criminal investigations of wrongdoing persists for all terminals with group logins.

OEMC agreed with OIG, and in its response stated that, as one of several measures, by the spring of 2017, approved users within the City of Chicago will be required to access the camera system using personal login credentials.

OIG’s audit also found that,

  • While OEMC expected that cameras would be maintained in working condition by Motorola, it did not formally define for the vendor the maintenance standards expected. OIG conducted its own tests of relevant cameras to see if they transmitted a clear image, had pan-tilt-zoom capability, had the ability to auto-focus, and if they stored archived footage for the required number of days. OIG found that cameras were operating below OEMC’s informal expectation that at least 95% of public safety cameras be fully functional at any given time.
  • OEMC’s project manager—the Public Building Commission (PBC)—evaluated Motorola’s performance as required, but could improve its vendor oversight through better documentation and reviewing vendor reports for errors.

In its response OEMC states that it will develop specific performance measures to capture the uptime and overall health of the entire camera network, and will engage with network users to determine if they require additional measures. It further explains that OEMC and PBC will utilize these measures while better monitoring Motorola’s deliverables and service levels.

“OEMC is tasked with the major responsibility of running an extensive public camera system,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “The effectiveness of such a network for law enforcement and emergency response hinges on clear operational objectives, which at present are not clear.  In order to assure the cameras are functionally meeting needs in the field, OEMC requires engagement and guidance from the end users, including CPD. Additionally, the integrity of the system requires that OEMC follow through on its commitment to ensure that only those qualified to use the system are accessing it and that those individuals use it appropriately. The $139.8 million in taxpayer money spent by the City on the camera program since 2006 makes it incumbent on OEMC to ensure efficient and effective use across all levels, from the program manager down to the vendor. I know that OEMC and PBC share these concerns and I therefore also look forward to seeing improved monitoring of vendor performance in the program going forward.”

The full report, and OEMC’s response to the findings, can be found online at OIG’s website:  http://bit.ly/OEMCSC

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