Created: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 06:49:00 PST
Updated: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 11:20:46 PST
OCEANSIDE -- A surveillance camera installed inside the campus police locker room at MiraCosta Community College live-streamed video of the department’s only female officer changing her clothes for more than three years, according to a new lawsuit.
The lawsuit, brought by Officer Rebecca Mahan, seeks unspecified damages for invasion of privacy “well in excess of $25,000” from the community college district and the city of Oceanside.
In September 2009, city technicians installed new computer-aided dispatch equipment in the small MiraCosta Campus Police headquarters building. The equipment was placed in the locker room, which also serves as an evidence room and houses other computer equipment for the police force of nine full-time sworn officers.
The surveillance camera was designed to monitor the computer system and ensure the equipment was maintained under proper temperature and humidity controls, according to Oceanside City Attorney John Mullen.
However, “the camera was not aimed [at] any of their equipment,” Mahan’s attorney Brandi Harper wrote in the civil complaint. “The video camera was pointed directly at Officer Rebecca Mahan’s locker, adjacent the east wall.”
For years, Mahan believed the camera was only operating when the glass cabinet containing the CAD equipment was open.
“In or about October, 2012 it was determined that the camera had been live streaming footage of the locker room since it was installed. Officer Mahan’s right to privacy was violated by the live streaming footage of her on an almost daily basis while she dressed and undressed. It is undetermined how many individuals have accessed the streaming footage and on how many occasions,” Harper wrote.
The city says the camera was part of standard monitoring equipment in the CAD apparatus that was installed by the manufacturer, and the camera’s position was fixed in place.
“A built-in camera records individuals accessing the rack or cabinet. Sensor readings and a live camera image can be viewed via an automatically generated web page,” reads an online product description for the RackBotz 310 appliance monitoring system.
The streaming video, which was not recorded or saved, could be accessed by a city technician using a password when the equipment sent out a remote alert that something was wrong, according to Randall Winet, attorney for the MiraCosta Community College District.
“An alert was never sent out,” Winet told San Diego 6. "No one ever viewed video of her changing clothes in that locker room."
The city of Oceanside and the MiraCosta Community College District have denied any wrongdoing in the case, and are challenging Mahan’s privacy claims.
The camera was removed in October 2012.