David Specht: Green’s security camera ordinance is the wrong idea at the wrong time

The problem with legislation is that the intent of a law is often at odds with the execution of said law. Such is the case with a proposed ordinance from Shreveport City Councilman James Green.

According to an article in Tuesday’s Shreveport Times, Green has proposed an ordinance requiring businesses to install and maintain digital security cameras.

According to the article, Green’s proposed ordinance would require, “digital camera systems for all businesses in the city which sell goods or merchandise and to require the recorded information be available for a minimum of 30 days.”

The intent of Green’s proposal may be rooted in safety and better accountability for police and the general public. However, we also know “certain roads” are paved with good intentions.

The article goes on to read that If passed, beginning on Aug. 1, all businesses which sell goods or merchandise located within the city, would be required to have a digital camera system capable of transferring video to a “widely used, portable form of media.

Other requirements of this proposal include:

  • Cameras would need to be positioned to record all entrances and exits, all stairways and elevators, all points of sale, all parking lots, and all fueling areas, including the faces of persons located in each of those areas.
  • Cameras would need to be operating and recording any time the establishment is open for business and for one hour after closing and shall record video indexed by date and time at a resolution of at least 1080p high definition.
  • All recorded video shall be maintained for at least 30 days and shall be made readily available to law enforcement upon request.

Many businesses already have security camera systems in place, and that is a good thing. However, to place the burden of purchasing, installing and maintaining such systems on businesses already struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is just a bad idea.

Many in government want to take swift action to move communities forward in a safe direction. However, we cannot act so swiftly that we don’t count the costs and burdens of executing our good intentions. More thought needs to go into this before a final vote is taken.