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Security cameras back on in Yellowknife, new policy adopted

Security cameras were turned back on as of Tuesday in Yellowknife, after the city shut them down in response to allegations of misuse by city staff as recently as 2014.

Special committee meeting set for Thursday on inquiry into alleged misconduct in city's bylaw department

Some public security cameras in Yellowknife are back on after they were temporarily shut down, following recent reports of alleged misconduct by a city manager. (CBC)

Some public surveillance cameras are back on in Yellowknife, and a new security camera policy is in place.

The city shut down the cameras last month, after CBC News and local media reported the technology was used by some city staff, including the head of the municipal enforcement division, to allegedly zoom in on and ogle women. The allegations date back to 2014.

The cameras at the Yellowknife Public Library, Fieldhouse an Multiplex were reactivated as of Tuesday. Additional cameras will be turned back on later, according to a city news release.

The release states during the time they were shut off, city staff assessed the rationale for all camera placements and created a policy to govern security camera usage.

A new policy governs camera use

A new Security Camera Policy was also implemented as of Monday — guidelines making sure city employees responsibly use public cameras for safety reasons or protecting the city's properties. 

The policy states the cameras can only be installed and monitored when deemed necessary to address a specific issue, when there isn't another way that's "less privacy-invasive" to address that issue. 

It says the footage should only be accessed by authorized employees, the city's chief lawyer, specific employees from the municipal information technology division and others, with approval from the city's senior administrative officer.

The policy states that when possible, using the cameras to observe, monitor and record should be restricted.

Signs must be posted where surveillance cameras are used — and the name and phone number of a city employee overseeing the cameras should always be on these signs.

Cameras should not be recording in areas where expectations of privacy are higher, like in change rooms and washrooms, says the policy. 

The city also put out a public notice of a special municipal services committee meeting Thursday to discuss the inquiry into allegations of workplace misconduct in the city's municipal enforcement division.

Earlier this month, the city held a secret meeting to discuss the inquiry, and no records were kept of that meeting.

Thursday's committee meeting is at city hall at 5:15 p.m.