Flint, Mich., May Require Businesses to Install Cameras

A proposed ordinance may require certain Flint businesses that are at risk of criminal activity to install at least three surveillance cameras, which the police can then tap into and monitor.

by Zahra Ahmad, MLive.com / October 18, 2019
Shutterstock/Bk87

(TNS) — A proposed ordinance may require certain Flint, Mich., businesses at risk of criminal activity to install at least three surveillance cameras police can tap into and monitor.

The proposal was introduced to City Council by Mayor Karen Weaver and Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson at a special affairs meeting on Monday, Oct. 14. The ordinance will require 11 different types of businesses, from liquor stores to banks, to have at least three surveillance cameras that Flint police’s CATT Eye can tap into.

Project CATT Eye--named after the department’s Crime Area Target Team--allows businesses in Flint to partner with police by giving investigators access to surveillance video feeds in real-time. The program was launched in 2017 with five Flint businesses that volunteered to be apart of its pilot.

“Right now, we’re fighting crime in the city with technology,” Johnson said. “It’s not boots on the ground like it used to be. We’re so limited with our resources (that) we have about five officers on the ground at any given shift. It used to be 30 officers on the street at any given shift.”

Businesses will be responsible for purchasing, installing and keeping up the cameras, and surveillance will be subject to inspection by the police chief or their designee.

“This fell in line with how the police chief is using camera surveillance to address public safety,” Weaver said. “We wanted to make it an ordinance rather than on a volunteer basis.”

Businesses required to install security cameras under the proposal would be banks or financial institutions, check and cashing businesses, coin dealers, firearms dealers, gas stations, liquor and alcohol businesses, hotels and motels, mobile communications dealers, money transmission services, pharmacies and medical marijuana facilities.

Flint is requiring these types of businesses to install cameras in an effort to “reduce the likelihood that employees and patrons of the business will be exposed to death or injuries because of crimes occurring on the premises," according to the first draft of the proposal. Business owners will have one year after the proposal is adopted to install the cameras, according to Angela Wheeler, Flint’s City Attorney.

“These are extra precautions that are being put in to keep the residents safe,” Wheeler said. “It’s something that really compliments what Chief Johnson has been doing.”

Many of the types of businesses listed in the proposal already have surveillance cameras, Flint Detective Sgt. Tyrone Booth said.

“So, (the proposal is) only making the bridge between us and them,” Booth said.

The cameras must be placed at the register or front counter, at the entrances and exits and in the parking lot of the establishment. A notice informing patrons they’re under surveillance will be placed in plain view inside the establishment. Businesses will be required to provide adequate lighting in their parking lots during hours of operation.

Businesses in violation of the proposed ordinance will be issued a notice and given 10 days to ask for an administrative hearing on the matter. If someone is found in violation and doesn’t meet the standards of the proposed ordinance, the violation will be prosecuted within the limits of state and local law, according to a draft of the proposal.

The police chief is authorized to exempt businesses from the proposed ordinance if the establishment isn’t open to the public, has taken extra security measures or has been authorized by the police chief to implement alternate security measures, according to a draft of the proposal.

Fees haven’t been placed on the surveillance services the Flint Police Department will offer, but Johnson said they’re in the process of establishing them. The department is also working on a grant for 300 additional cameras to be placed throughout the city, Johnson said.

“If that happens, that will open the intel center and the businesses will begin paying a fee for our services,” Johnson said. “The technology we’re using now supports, guides and leads us. Using data, we’re able to (predict) where the next crime will take place.”

Council did not vote on the ordinance. The proposal was introduced to council so members could have time to read and review it, Weaver said. Eventually, council will have to vote on the first reading of the proposed ordinance, hold a public hearing for residents’ input and vote to adopt the proposal as law.

©2019 MLive.com, Walker, Mich. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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