Should Gloucester County let workers record interactions with citizens?

GLOUCESTER COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Recording interactions with customers for quality assurance isn’t something new. It’s done by companies, but when a Hampton Roads county tried to do it, some officials and the public cried foul.

In Gloucester County, administrator Brent Fedors keeps a close eye on the county’s employees.

“Being a customer service organization, that’s our primary mission is to service our community,” Fedors said.

Last month some employees brought him a request.

“A couple of departments felt that it would be beneficial to record conversations or interactions with patrons,” he explained.

Fedors thought it over and presented the county Board of Supervisors with a policy — one that promoted civility by allowing workers to record interactions with citizens.

“Theoretically, you know folks that are being recorded or think they are being recorded behave differently,” Fedors said.

The county administrator wanted input from the public and his Board of Supervisors. He took the plan to a board meeting. That’s where got push back.

“It sounds like its more protection for workers than citizens,” one board member said.

“Citizens were concerned about privacy. They are also concerned with retention,” Fedors said.

This month, Fedors presented the board with a different policy. He said it’s a 180-degree turn from the previous one. County meetings and human resources meetings can be recorded.

“Staff will not be permitted to record one-on-one engagement with patrons,” Fedors said.

Fedors said he wanted the public’s input to the put the best possible policy forward. All he wanted in the end was to promote civil interactions between county workers and the people they serve.