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Burnaby school district wants to stop staff from being 'traumatized' by video of crimes

After two homicides and one indecent act outside Burnaby school district buildings this year, the school district is reviewing its policy on how staff provide security video to police investigators.
The Burnaby school board was presented with an annual report on the district's CCTV surveillance program Tuesday. Photo Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Moment/Getty Images

The Burnaby school district is reviewing the way it provides police with security video footage of crimes that happen near local schools.

One of the goals is to prevent staff from being traumatized by looking at the footage.

Since the beginning of the school year, there have been at least three major police incidents near school district buildings – including two homicides.

On Oct. 17, the bodies of a man and woman were found dead in a car near Alpha Secondary School.

A day later, Burnaby RCMP Const. Shaelyn Yang was stabbed to death by a homeless man who was shot during the altercation right beside the school district’s head office off Canada Way.

And on Nov. 10, a man allegedly exposed himself and committed an indecent act in front of students at Maywood Community School in Metrotown.

An annual video surveillance program report presented to the school board Tuesday said staff plans to review its policy “in consideration of recent incidents either near or within our facilities.”

“These are being treated as learning opportunities to refine our approach and ensure we meet our obligations with respect to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act and protect our staff from situations where they may be traumatized by what they observe or become ‘witness’ to an event,” stated the report.

Secretary-treasurer Russell Horswill declined to comment on the specific cases that sparked the review but said it’s not unusual for investigators to come to the district for CCTV footage if a police incident has happened near a school district facility.

“There are some difficult, traumatic events that happen in and around school sites, so we’re wanting to make sure that our staff simply are not exposed to that,” he said.

When police make a request for video, district staff label the video timeframe requested and provide a copy to police.

(Unless video footage is specifically bookmarked, it is overwritten automatically after 30 days.)

In the past, Horswill said staff have sometimes watched the video as well.

“That’s not necessary,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is put in place a better process to flag times or dates that the video is requested, and there’s no need for the district staff to be viewing it.”

The review of the policy, which has already begun and will continue into next school year, will be undertaken within the IT department.

“The issues that we’re speaking to are largely within the IT department on providing copies of the footage,” Horswill said.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor