A Dallas County Sheriff's Lieutenant is out of a job after the department says he used jail cameras to watch female inmates in the shower.The ubiquity of modern surveillance apparatus raise this question wherever anyone might get undressed, be it the changing room at the mall or the local swimming pool, but particularly in correctional environments. As Grits lamented recently, the Legislature after 9/11 eliminated all requirements for transparency and open records regarding all types of government camera surveillance, completely deregulating camera use and leaving the details to individual state and local agencies. In the case of the Dallas jail, at least there are apparently policies in place forbidding misuse of cameras, and some willingness by the Sheriff to enforce them. That's not universally true, though, and thanks to a near-complete exemption under the Public Information Act, there's no way (besides this kind of laudable self-disclosure) for the public to investigate when or how government surveillance cameras are abused. Sheriff Valdez deserves credit, to be sure, but especially because if she'd decided to cover up the incident, there's no way anyone would ever know.
Lt. Steven Gentry, an 18-year veteran of the department, violated departmental policy, according to Sheriff's spokesman Kim Leach.
An internal affairs investigation found his conduct unbecoming.
Gentry was fired Monday.
Back in May, he was an instructor for a class called "Ethics in a Correctional Setting" at the sheriff's training academy.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Official Voyeurism: Open record exemptions leave only voluntary disclosure of camera abuses
A Dallas area TV station last week reported: