DeKalb County could require surveillance cameras for convenience stores to deter violent crime

All convenience stores in one metro Atlanta county could soon be required to install surveillance camera systems on their property.

A DeKalb County commissioner hopes 24-hour surveillance at high risk businesses will cut down on violent crime plaguing their neighborhoods.

Along with those convenience stores, the newly proposed ordinance says any business where a serious crime like a murder, rape, or armed robbery has happened will be required to install cameras or, possibly update their current system.

"Technically, each and every one of these businesses should already have surveillance taking place," DeKalb County Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson said. 

She sponsored this ordinance which would require a camera be dedicated to each cash register, entrance and exit, and gas pump.

This is mandatory for any business where police were called more than three times in 30 consecutive days.

"I think it's a new day and in many instances, this is what it's going to require in order for us to adequately prosecute and hold individuals accountable," she explained. 

The proposed legislation calls for these stores to have a camera system in proper working order 24/7.

"Anytime there is a request for footage, it must be surrendered within 72-hours of the request to the property authority," she explained.

The cameras will also need to monitor a minimum of 75 feet of the building's exterior, and they all must meet minimum technological standards regarding resolution and pixels to ensure the video is clear.

"I've even driving down to service stations and when you're looking with the owner, literally you see the commission of a crime but beyond that you have nothing tangible you can work on," Cochran-Johnson detailed. 

The idea is a direct result of a string of violent crime including shootings and homicides to hit gas stations within the county.

"He was openly selling marijuana to other people that were coming inside the store. There was nothing that i saw that the business was doing to stop him," LaWanda Ratcliffe, who lives in the area where some of these shooting have happened, said. 

Residents said the commissioner's ordinance is bringing a new strategy to this situation.

This is one of several efforts police and county leaders have put forth or suggested in recent months to get a handle on crime a these businesses.

"The residents are still very much concerned about what we witness on a day-to-day basis," Ratcliffe detailed.

If this ordinance is adopted, it will permit county employees to cite businesses who fail to comply.

The citation could result in fines or imprisonment.

Commissioner Cochran-Johnson said the legislation will go before the Employee Relations and Public Safety Committee before the commissioners can vote on it.