Engineer rejects claim of spying

WARREN – A worker in the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office is claiming his boss, Engineer Randy Smith, had audio devices installed in employee work areas and in the men’s and women’s locker rooms to listen to employee conversations.

Lee Stauffer, a laborer and shop steward for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 8, also claims in a police report made Wednesday that Smith had cameras put in the same locations.

In addition to listening to conversations in the areas, the report says the administration could also watch females disrobe.

Smith said the claims are not true.

The cameras can record sound, but audio is ”not enabled at this point in time, nor will it be,” in the future, he said, and there are no cameras in locations that require privacy, like where an employee would need to undress.

”They are simply bold-face, false statements,” Smith said.

Messages left Thursday for Stauffer were not returned.

Sheriff’s Office detectives investigating Stauffer’s claims spoke with two women who reported that if they need to undress, they never do it near lockers they have in a break room, but in a restroom / shower facility.

Smith said the lockers used by the two women are in a common area on the first floor of a back garage that also contains tools, parts and picnic tables. Also on the first floor is the separate restroom / shower facility for the women. On a second floor are lockers for men.

There are cameras monitoring the common area, but not in areas where privacy is necessary, Smith said.

Smith said the office recently updated its security by updating and adding to the camera system. Seventeen cameras are located around the office grounds, including in the administration building, garage, front gate, at the fuel pumps, parking lot, parts room and garage work area.

Part of the reason for the upgrade, Smith said, is because the county’s Emergency Management Agency and other offices are going to be moving to the Engineer’s Office property on North River Road. Another reason, there was vandalism recently to a freshly painted vehicle in the office’s shop area.

”We just felt now is the appropriate time to upgrade the system,” Smith said.