Can I Put A Camera On A Utility Pole?

The occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon resulted in a plethora of odd sights. Occupant Levoy Finnicum was one among them, climbed a utility pole near a power transformer and ripping open a white box on the top. Two video cameras were found inside the box, which were allegedly used to watch the squatters’ actions. The cameras were thrown to the ground and decried by the occupiers as more proof of a government unmoored from its constitutional constraints invading their freedom and privacy.

The occupiers of Malheur may have had a valid point in this case. At least one federal court has ruled that the government cannot employ utility pole-mounted video surveillance cameras to constantly record the actions of individuals on private land where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy without first obtaining a search warrant. 1 Of course, determining whether one’s expectation of privacy is “reasonable” is both subjective and fact-dependent. Another recent federal appellate court judgment ruled that no warrant was required to install a camera on a utility pole under very similar circumstances.

These inconsistent federal court decisions convey no clear signal to utility pole owners about whether allowing to the installation of such pole-mounted cameras would violate their customers’ constitutional rights. Could a pole owner, for example, be held liable if he or she permits the installation of a surveillance camera that is later discovered to constitute an illegal search and seizure? Do pole owners really want police detectives or “patriots” shimmying up and down their poles to install and remove cameras on a more practical level? The state of the law as it relates to utility pole-mounted surveillance will be discussed in this article, as well as “best-practices” for pole owners to adopt in order to avoid legal liability.

Is a Search Warrant Required?

The Fourth Amendment places a direct limit on the government’s ability to probe into people’s private life. 133 S. Ct. 1409, 1414; Florida v. Jardines, 133 S. Ct. 1409, 1414; Florida v. Jardines, 133 S. Ct (2013). “The right of people to be safe in their persons, homes, papers, and effects against unwarranted searches and seizures,” according to the Fourth Amendment. Without a warrant, searches and seizures are presumed to be unjustified. Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473, 2494-95; Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473, 2494-95; Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473, 2494-95; (2014). The Fourth Amendment’s application to specific circumstances is continuously changing, as is the development of new surveillance technologies.

In April 2013, police received authorization from a utility to put a hidden video camera on a utility pole near Leonel Vargas’ home in rural Eastern Washington.

2 For at least six weeks, the video camera captured the front and side of Vargas’ house 24 hours a day. The camera could be remotely panned and zoomed, and the video feed could be seen. Vargas was seen firing firearms, relaxing and chatting with pals in the front yard, and even peeing near the side of the house during the six-week monitoring.

Law enforcement sought and executed a search warrant against Vargas based on the evidence gathered through video surveillance. They discovered illicit firearms and drugs. Vargas has been charged with a crime in federal court. Clearly, the spying had been successful. Or has it already happened?

Vargas filed a petition to suppress any evidence gathered from the utility pole video monitoring, either directly or indirectly, on the grounds that it violated the Fourth Amendment. The court had to decide whether Vargas had a reasonable expectation of privacy when in his front yard of his rural home, requiring law officers to get a search warrant. Mr. Vargas had a reasonable expectation that his private actions in his front yard would not be subjected to such continual, covert surveillance, according to the federal court. Vargas socialized and even urinated in his yard, according to the judge, suggested a need for seclusion. None of the evidence discovered by law enforcement after the search warrant was executed would be admissible in court to prove the criminal allegations.

In a similar case, the defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when in the front yard of his farm in rural Tennessee, according to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Without a search warrant, the ATF erected a video camera on a utility pole about 200 yards from defendant Houston’s farm. The video feed was live for a total of ten weeks. While on his property, the video captured footage of Houston outside and near his home. The ATF got a search warrant based on the video evidence and discovered more than 25 weapons on the property.

Unlike in the Vargas case, the ATF’s constant and covert surveillance of Houston’s property and the outside of his home did not violate the Fourth Amendment, according to the 6th Circuit. Houston had no reasonable expectation of privacy in any action that could have been seen by bystanders on public roads, according to the 6th Circuit. The Court was convinced that the ATF could have stationed an agent at the top of the power pole for ten weeks, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to monitor Houston’s property. As a result, the ATF should not be penalized for conducting surveillance via video rather than in person.

Best Practices for Pole Owners

Although fascinating, these two examples do not provide much direction to pole owners when law enforcement demands access to poles for surveillance purposes. Despite the fact that the 6th Circuit is the highest court in the country, its decisions are not always binding in other circuits. Furthermore, each of these situations is based on a unique set of facts. It would be unreasonable to expect pole owners to determine whether a search warrant is required before giving access in any given situation.

Because determining whether or not a search warrant is required is difficult, if not impossible, my first piece of advice to pole owners would be to always request one as a matter of policy. There can be no Fourth Amendment violation when a search warrant is lawful. As a result, the utility is operating on very safe ground, granting access to its poles in accordance with a search warrant. Furthermore, by demanding a search warrant as a matter of policy, the pole owner has the assurance that the monitoring target has been verified by an impartial magistrate. Similarly, the cost of getting a search warrant should be minimal. During the few days it would take to get a warrant, it is unlikely that vital evidence would be lost or destroyed.

My second piece of advice to pole owners is to compel law enforcement to sign a license agreement before installing cameras or other equipment on a pole. The license agreement would be similar to a pole attachment agreement, with the exception that it would be more specifically customized to the type of facility to be connected and the term of the attachment. Each of the following points should be addressed at a minimum in such a license agreement:

  • Identification of all poles and attachments: The attached law enforcement organization should be obliged to properly identify each pole to which an attachment will be made as part of the license agreement. Law enforcement should also clarify the nature of the attachment, such as its size and weight, whether it requires electricity, and any other information pertinent to the pole’s safe use.
  • Attachment specifications: The pole owner’s technical specifications for such attachments should be included in the license agreement. This will assist guarantee that the attachment is constructed and maintained in a safe manner by competent individuals, and that it meets all applicable safety laws and standards.
  • Indemnity: A strong and extensively written indemnity provision should be included in the license agreement. The indemnity should cover not just accidents caused by the attacher or its attachments, but it should also expressly protect the pole owner from any legal action alleging a violation of private rights. Given that the attacher is almost certainly a government institution, the indemnity should be exempt from any tort claim limitations or other statutory liability limitations that may apply to the attaching entity.
  • Costs: While a pole owner may opt to grant law enforcement temporary access to utility poles without charging a rental fee, pole owners are still entitled to recoup their out-of-pocket costs connected with administering the license agreement and arranging (or creating) the attachment itself.

Avoid Consenting to the Use of Poles Located on Private Property

Finally, I would advise pole owners to use greater caution when installing poles on private property (not owned by the pole owner), as opposed to poles in public rights of way. An easement normally allows poles to be placed on private property. Easements, on the other hand, are limited in scope by their very nature. A typical utility easement can allow the pole owner to build and maintain a pole on private property solely to provide utility services. Allowing law enforcement to spy on a property owner or their neighbors is plainly not part of the utility service’s mandate.

Is it possible to mount a camera on a utility pole?

The following list contains information on permitted utility pole attachments:

  • Advertisements “The Roadside Sign Control and Outdoor Advertising Act (N.J.S.A. 27:5-5 et.seq.)” must be followed.

Is it possible to attach something to a utility pole?

  • NO. Please do not connect anything to electrical poles for safety concerns. Utility employees are more likely to be injured by nails and staples, especially since line crews climb electricity poles.
  • We’ve all seen or posted signs on utility poles advertising missing pets, impending garage sales, and other random announcements. While it may appear to be an innocent gesture, these small bits of paper can cause significant harm to utility personnel and are unlawful.
  • Utility personnel are required to climb the same utility poles in order to work around power wires carrying 7,200 volts or more. Foreign objects embedded in the pole, such as staples or nails, might cause the utility worker’s gloves to snag or tear.
  • Those gloves are designed to safeguard employees from getting electrocuted by insulating them from high voltage.
  • Other items found affixed to power poles include hunting stands and basketball hoops.
  • Utility employees, you, and anybody else who utilizes these goods are in grave danger. When conducting any outdoor activity, keep as much distance as possible between yourself and overhead electrical wires. Utility poles have also been discovered with satellite dishes connected.
  • This is a hazard not only for utility employees, but also for dish installers, and should never be attached to utility poles. Posting signs and other items on utility poles also poses a threat to public safety.
  • The usage of nails, staples, and other materials in wooden utility poles might hasten their deterioration. This can compromise the pole’s structural integrity and stability, increasing the risk of it collapsing when hit by a car.
  • “Falling poles imply power interruptions, which are at the very least inconvenient,” says Catherine Cronin, Vera Water and Power’s communications manager. “Utilities must spend important resources to repair or replace utility poles that have been damaged.”
  • Avoid placing or hanging anything on utility poles to keep yourself and others in your community safe. Other options for posting in your neighborhood include yard stakes or online community organizations.

Is it possible to decorate a utility pole?

Paint electrical poles to blend in or compliment the rest of your landscaping as a decorative technique to hide them. Depending on whether the electricity pole you wish to conceal is made of wood or metal, your local home improvement or paint store should have an outside paint you may use.

Is it possible to fly a flag from a utility pole?

We appreciate the opportunity to celebrate the holidays in all of the areas where we live and work, so we understand your worries. While a utility pole may appear to be an ideal location for hanging a sign, a flag, or Christmas decorations, it is just not safe. We’ve witnessed an increasing number of towns attaching items on Xcel Energy-owned power poles over the years. That’s why we’re collaborating with communities to ensure that we’re adhering to the National Electric Safety Code and our own safety standards. However, as some have remarked, we do not levy fines. We’ll keep working with towns to identify decorations that are both safe for our personnel and the general public.

Our primary concern is safety, and ornamental attachments on utility poles can pose a major safety hazard.

community members, our employees, and the general public. While attachments aren’t allowed,

We will accept certain attachments on our streetlight poles if they are allowed on our distribution poles.

We have no concerns about our safety. Answers to some frequently asked questions are provided below.

A: While a utility pole may appear to be a convenient spot to hang a flag or post a notice, it is not.

isn’t safe at all. We’ve seen an increase in the number of communities banding together throughout the years.

a variety of things to our utility poles Our employees work to safeguard the safety of community members.

We are working with our communities to ensure that the National Electric Safety Code is followed.

Q: How do items like banners and flags affixed to electricity poles affect linemen?

A: Our line crews operate in all kinds of weather, attaching banners and other objects.

Putting flags to utility poles can be dangerous since it affects their ability to safely operate.

carry out their duties If a lineman needs to go to overhead equipment for repairs or maintenance,

A: Overhead power wires come with their own set of dangers. It’s critical to stay put.

at least ten feet away The presence of attachments on our poles can put individuals in danger. For

For instance, if a person comes too close to electrical lines to attach a decorative item, they will be electrocuted.

Thousands of volts of electricity could be present. Other people will notice whether the object is made of metal.

It’s possible that you’ll get an electric shock. There’s also the possibility of an attachment, such as a necklace.

A: No, ornamental attachments on distribution poles are simply not safe, hence they are not used.

A: We will accept single-pole banners, flags, holiday decorations, and/or street signs if they are judged safe.

A: Power cables and possibly a streetlight are supported by distribution poles. When it comes to streetlight poles,

Only streetlights and the wiring that goes with them are supported. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the two.

A: Of course. Banners affixed to two or more poles, flower baskets, and speakers are just a few examples.

Wiring can’t be installed on streetlight poles, either. We’ll work with you to see what we can do.

Q: I realize that any unauthorised attachments must be removed at this time.

A: On our distribution poles, all electric attachments will need to be removed. However, in order to

To unhook electrical attachments, you’ll need a professional electrician and an Xcel Energy lineman.

A: Yes, this is a policy that applies to the entire company. We’ll work with communities in each of the eight states we’ll be visiting.

Q: What procedures do I need to take to get permission to use attachments on Xcel?

your submission Wait as we process each streetlight pole in most circumstances.

Xcel Energy personnel must inspect the pole to ensure that it is structurally sound.

acoustic support for the attachments We will send you an email if your request is approved.

The “License Agreement Regarding Streetlight Poles” is a legal document that governs the use of streetlight poles. We will notify you if your request is denied.

Is it possible to mount a birdhouse on a utility pole?

Attaching anything to poles, from the tiniest of posters to something as huge as a basketball hoop or birdhouse, not only violates the law, but also puts the lives of others at risk, particularly linemen, whose jobs are already perilous. A single nail, tack, or screw partially pushed into a pole might shred a lineman’s glove and clothing, jeopardizing their safety and exposing them to electrocution.

Line crews are not only endangered by the attachments, but anyone placing goods on poles comes dangerously close to electrified power wires.

Moisture and insects can enter into gaps around nails, causing damage to the poles and raising maintenance expenses. That is a cost to you, the SVEC member-owners.

“Signs for yard sales, events, parties, and seasonal decorations.

“You name it, we’ve seen it,” Winchester District line supervisor Scott Boyd said. “People will hang them with everything from staples to a size 16D nail, and that is the problem.” The fastener remains intact even if the sign is removed or blown away by the wind. Not only is it dangerous to try to climb the pole, but it’s also dangerous to walk by with something projecting from the pole. Most people don’t understand how rapidly these tacks, nails, and other items accumulate around the pole.”

“We have several poles in the Winchester city borders with information affixed to them on a weekly basis, and you’d be shocked at how many staples and nails are left there.”

You might be surprised to learn that affixing signs and advertisements on a pole is also illegal in Virginia. According to state law, anyone who installs goods on poles faces a civil penalty of $100. The National Electric Safety Code also prohibits unauthorized attachments.

Remove any prohibited items from utility poles to help keep our linemen and the communities they serve safe. Line employees will remove any fixtures that do not belong to SVEC or another utility, and the Cooperative will not be responsible for any losses if an item is damaged or destroyed during removal.

Yard sale, party, and other event signs should be placed on stakes in the ground or in another secure area. Your cooperation is much appreciated.

Is it possible to hoist a flag from a light pole?

The American flag should always be flown in a light color scheme. If the flag can be seen clearly at night, either by placing a solar flagpole light directed at it or by street lights or home lights, it can be left outside.

Is there a camera on the lamp post?

This cutting-edge technology, which is packed with sensors and cameras, is capable of managing the energy expenses of street lights, which may consume up to one-third of a municipality’s energy costs.

What is the best height for a CCTV camera to be installed?

The majority of exterior surveillance cameras are installed on the main house structure’s or outer walls’ walls. These external house cameras, however, will not record the vital visuals unless they are set at the proper height, rendering them ineffectual.

What happens when the outdoor cameras are mounted too low or too high?

Mounting the cameras too low can invite vandals and miscreants, as well as provide an easy opportunity for thieves to circumvent the security system by breaking the camera lens. Furthermore, the cameras will lack a wider viewing angle, limiting their ability to observe and photograph the environment.

When you mount the camera too high, you’ll only see the tops of visitors’ heads and no faces when you watch the movie. The distance at which CCTV cameras may emit infrared to collect sights is limited. The camera will not be able to effectively illuminate the surrounding area if it is mounted too high, and so will not capture clear visuals.

So, what is the most appropriate height to install home surveillance cameras outdoor?

Installing your surveillance cameras at a height of 7-8 feet is the best option. It’s just out of reach of a vandal or would-be robber while being close enough to capture faces and crucial information.

There are certain advantages to mounting a camera at a greater elevation, such as 5 meters. It has the ability to capture a larger region and provide a more comprehensive perspective of the site.

Eurovigil provides a large selection of outdoor security cameras to pick from, and their customer service team can assist you in placing it in the best possible location to maximize its utility.

What Else To Look For In An Outdoor Surveillance System?

The camera’s height alone does not guarantee the optimum surveillance security. In addition to the basic features of outdoor CCTV systems, you may want to consider the camera’s picture definition, long-view capabilities, lens width, and zooming capabilities.

Finally, it is advised that you use a professional to install your outdoor video surveillance cameras for home security because they will take into account all of your needs as well as the structure of your property to determine the ideal places to put them.