One of the decisions that must be made when installing a video surveillance system is whether to keep the presence of security cameras relatively secret, or blatantly obvious. The thinking behind openly announcing the cameras' existence is that it will work as a stronger deterrent to crime. In other words, criminals are more likely to stop before they start if they know they're on camera. Such is the strategy in Onslow County, North Carolina, where the county's Superior Court building was recently equipped with security cameras that transmit feeds to flat-screen television monitors mounted on the wall for all to see. The Court Security Committee wanted a system that was overt rather than covert.
By acting as a deterrent, the courthouse cameras work to protect the public as well as employees. The recent efforts to bolster courthouse security in Onslow County were kindled in part by a 2005 shooting in an Atlanta courthouse that resulted in the deaths of a judge, reporter and a deputy. Aside from preventing acts of crime and violence, the Onslow courthouse cameras can also provide visual evidence in case incidents need to be analyzed after the fact.
The video surveillance system in the Onslow Superior Court Building is monitored by the bailiff who watches feeds from all of the cameras on a monitor inside the courtroom. The bailiff can then call for help if a disturbance breaks out. Security cameras currently monitor the building's courtroom, hallways, and all entrances and exits so that anyone entering or exiting the facility is captured on camera.