The Use of Video Surveillance Equipment

Policy number: 9.9

Policy section: Police & Public Safety

Revised Date: January 2, 2019


1.  Definitions

Definitions of capitalized terms are set forth in Appendix A.

2.  Policy Statement

It is University policy to use Video Surveillance equipment on University-owned or controlled property, and, in doing so, to comply with applicable federal, state and local law affecting its use.

3.  Purpose

The University is committed to providing a reasonably safe and secure environment in support of the academic mission of the institution.  A variety of policing strategies are used in this endeavor, including the use of a centralized system of Video Surveillance equipment.

The Office of Information Technology approves Video Surveillance equipment purchases and is responsible for its installation and maintenance.  The SMU Police Department monitors images captured by Video Surveillance equipment.  The presence of Video Surveillance equipment on University owned or controlled property does not imply or guarantee that the equipment is in continuous operation or that it is monitored in real time or otherwise.

4.  Applicability

This policy applies to all Video Surveillance equipment on University owned or controlled property except for equipment used in connection with:

  1. academic research or instruction;
  2. human research approved by the applicable Institutional Review Board;
  3. athletic events or performing arts performances;
  4. video conferencing;
  5. Office of Public Affairs webcams used to communicate construction progress or other University-related projects of general interest; and
  6. Uses of cameras on the SMU campus that have been approved by and follow the guidelines for filming on campus set by SMU’s Office of Public Affairs, as governed by University Policy 5.15, Commercial Photography.

5.  Permitted Uses of Images Captured by Video Surveillance Equipment

  1. The University uses images obtained through Video Surveillance equipment primarily for law enforcement and security purposes; however, with the prior approval of the Vice President for Business and Finance or designee (in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs), images from Video Surveillance equipment may be used for:
    1. internal employee and student disciplinary action;
    2. Clery Crime Alerts;
    3. news releases issued by the Office of Public Affairs;
    4. civil lawsuits by the University against a person(s) whose activity appears in the recorded images and which activity is the basis for the suit; and
    5. other purposes approved by the Vice President for Business and Finance, his/her designee, or the SMU Chief of Police (in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs).
  2. Images obtained in violation of this policy may not be used in a disciplinary proceeding against a member of the University faculty, staff or student body.
  3. Subject to the prior approval of the Vice President for Business and Finance or designee (in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs), the SMU Police Department may operate Video Surveillance equipment covertly for law enforcement purposes only.
  4. No images captured by SMU Video Surveillance equipment may be copied or distributed outside of the University without the written permission of the Vice President for Business and Finance or designee.
  5. Access to recorded footage shall be limited to the SMU Police Department, or to individuals who have been approved by the Vice President for Business and Finance or designee.
  6. A person who engages in Video Surveillance on property owned or controlled by the University in violation of this policy may be subject to University sanction up to and including termination of employment or expulsion from the University.

6. Acquisition, Installation and Placement of Video Surveillance Equipment

  1. SMU’s Vice President for Business and Finance or his/her designee shall approve the acquisition of Video Surveillance equipment.The Vice President for Business and Finance or his/her designee may refuse to permit the acquisition, installation or use of Video Surveillance equipment that is incompatible technologically with SMU’s existing information systems.
  2. All Video Surveillance equipment must be installed:
    1. in accordance with SMU Office of Planning, Design and Construction guidelines and this policy; and
    2. so that the SMU Police Department has direct, real-time access to captured images.
  3. The SMU Police Department shall review and approve the placement of Video Surveillance equipment installed for law enforcement or campus security purposes. Unless necessary for legitimate law enforcement purposes and approved by the Office of the District Attorney of Dallas County or a court of competent jurisdiction, Video Surveillance equipment may not be installed or operated in:
    1. a student’s residence hall room without the student’s permission;
    2. public restroom toilet stalls or in view of urinals;
    3. locker or dressing rooms where showering or disrobing is routine;
    4. private offices without the occupant’s permission; or
    5. other areas where occupants have an enhanced expectation of privacy.

7. Training

The Division of Business and Finance shall ensure that each University employee who is responsible for installing or operating Video Surveillance equipment is trained in the effective, legal, and ethical use of the equipment.

8. Alteration of Images Captured by Video Surveillance Equipment

No image captured by Video Surveillance equipment may be altered without the prior consent of the Vice President for Business and Finance or designee (in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs).

Appendix A: Definitions

“Video Surveillance” refers to the use of video cameras to observe the physical area of the campus for identification of individuals and activity in violation of law or policy.


Revised: January 2, 2019

Adopted: October 21, 2014