Lawsuit filed over North County Transit District's use of surveillance cameras

Ex-employee claims male guards were voyeuristic
Posted at 6:49 PM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 22:20:27-05

OCEANSIDE, Calif. - A lawsuit filed against the North County Transit District claims its surveillance cameras were improperly used.

The cameras are supposed to protect travelers as they came and go at train and bus stations, but the lawsuit claims the zoom control has been used to get up close and too personal, providing improper entertainment for the men watching those monitors.

The plaintiff's attorney Laura Farris told 10News, "The riders that expected to be safe, instead were being ogled, stared at, had crude and lewd comments being made about them; it was just horrific."

Farris said NCTD code officer Noel Buckhanon complained about the locker room atmosphere and was a victim herself of discrimination, retribution and concerns about her own safety.

Buckhanon left the job about a year ago, citing medical and emotional troubles.

The suit alleges the surveillance cameras preyed on women and girls voyeuristically but also electronically eavesdropped.

"The cameras zoomed in so close they could read a text message on a phone," said Farris.

Jennifer Perez, who rides the train, told 10News she thinks such behavior is wrong.

"Unfortunately, that sounds unethical, and in this day and age, you'd think there's more equality to it … and good for her for standing up for herself and doing something about it because it would definitely bother me," Perez said.

NCTD officials released this statement in response to the lawsuit:

"North County Transit District (NCTD) is aware of the media reports related to a lawsuit that has been filed by a former NCTD employee alleging amongst other issues that there was inappropriate and unauthorized use of NCTD security cameras. Cameras are a vital component of NCTD's security system and have greatly assisted NCTD in ensuring the safety of our employees, customers, and the general public.

NCTD values the privacy of our customers and fully expects our employees to engage with the public in a professional and respectful manner. NCTD provides training for all employees related to its Code of Conduct and prohibition of harassment in the workplace. To the degree any employee engages in any activity outside of NCTD's expectations for professional conduct, the employee will be subject to disciplinary action.

As this lawsuit is still pending, NCTD cannot comment on the specific allegations of the complaint. However, it is important for the public to understand that NCTD has taken the appropriate steps to ensure that the privacy of the general public is respected."