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Security camera rebate program passes in city council

Posted at 12:09 AM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 07:33:53-04

BALTIMORE — The city is one step closer to a security camera rebate program that's been dubbed as a way to help police fight crime.

The bill, which will pay residents $150 for installing a camera system and registering it with police, passed by a vote of 13-1 in city council Monday.

"[I'm] excited that we passed legislation on the city council that will contribute to the public safety challenges in the city," said Councilman Eric Costello, who introduced the bill.

The registration doesn't allow police unlimited access to the footage-- everyone still has the right to say no to the department.

When Councilman Costello was asked does he believe these cameras will help reduce crime, he responded saying, "I don't believe it. I know it."

Costello is citing data he says shows when there's a high number of residential or commercial security cameras, crime in the area is reduced.

Arch Mckown with other neighbors created a network of cameras in their community of Patterson Park to help fight crime. He started it in 2017. McKown says it's been effective.

"2018 versus 2017, burglaries dropped by 50 percent," he said.

He says the network of cameras in the neighborhood helped solve a number of crimes. McKown says when a teenager body slammed and stole a woman's keys last December in Patterson Park, the cameras helped get the suspect off the streets.

"We were able to send the footage to the police who were patrolling looking for these folks," McKown said.

Councilman Ryan Dorsey was the only person who voted no on the bill, citing privacy concerns as well as questioning if it will reduce crime.

He sent WMAR-2 News this text saying, "On every street in my district, there are countless more cameras than there were three or four years ago. Yet crime is an even greater concern today."

McKown says neighborhoods could replicate his neighborhood's success, adding there shouldn't be any concerns about privacy.

"I see less of a problem of them being used to randomly surveil people," he said.

As of now, there's no estimate on how much the program will cost.

Councilman Costello says the program will be partially funded with grant money from the mayor's office.

Baltimore County passed a similar piece of legislation in February.