As part of the One Safe Houston initiative, convenience stores, nightclubs, bars, arcades and sex-oriented businesses are required to have high-definition surveillance cameras recording video 24 hours a day.
Businesses are required to provide an overall view of the exterior of their property to the property line and retain video for a minimum of 30 days.
They must also have lighting that illuminates all areas that customers have access to.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Houston Police Department told ABC13 that they don’t expect to release any citations regarding the new regulation but want to further educate business owners before imposing a fine.
HPD also said they are not currently conducting proactive checks to determine which companies are and are not compliant. How exactly will this work?
“Today, if someone said, ‘I just don’t follow that,’ I think HPD would issue a quote. So that has teeth, but the whole point is getting voluntary compliance. Because the purpose (of the regulation) is to help companies reduce crime in their locations,” said Houston City Attorney Arturo Michel.
Business owners who do not comply with the regulations can receive an administrative offense proposal.
The regulation also requires business owners to turn over videos related to criminal investigations to police within 72 hours without the need for a warrant. Concerns have been raised about violations of the Fourth Amendment.
Michel says because these private businesses are public areas, this is not considered a search.
“I know there are theories developing that say, ‘If you address a person sufficiently in public spaces, that can be considered a search.’ That’s not what we’re doing here. This is not surveillance to identify people. This is when a crime is committed, these companies call HPD. HPD is trying to find out what happened,” Michel said.
HPD said they would start with companies that had a history of criminal problems and hope the owners will, without giving a citation.
Although some of the details of this new regulation are unclear at this time, HPD Executive Chief Matt Slinkard told ABC13 last month that their goal is to work with business owners for a safer city.
“We have many wonderful, conscientious business owners in Houston and Harris County, Texas who have cameras. And they are concerned about public safety in and around their premises. However, some don’t, and that makes it a challenge for law enforcement as we try to control violent crime in these areas,” Slinkard said.
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https://abc13.com/crime-heavy-businesses-required-to-have-surveillance-high-resolution-cameras-one-safe-houston-initiative/12061849/ One Safe Houston: High crime businesses must have high definition surveillance cameras and give video to police