WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A new law will require hundreds of businesses in White Plains to install cameras to record all people coming in and out of their establishments.
As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, the legislation applies to businesses that sell alcohol, check cashing establishments, pawn shops, pharmacies and stores open between midnight and 4 a.m.
The new law requires those businesses to maintain high-quality digital recorders and to turn over the images to police upon request.
Those found in violation of the law can be jailed for up to 15 days and fined a maximum of $250 a day until cameras are installed and in operation.
Some local businesses support the law.
“Because they leave the bread outside by the door and we’re wondering why we’re always short a couple rolls and a couple of bagels. We watched the cameras and we saw the guy. It was one of our neighbors just coming in and grabbing a bagel or two,” deli owner Phil Carpenito told Adams.
And as CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, Domingo Moronta was the victim of a break-in at the White Plains deli he owns. He is convinced that when robbers do not see the surveillance cameras, a business is a welcome mat for crime.
“He saw we didn’t have any system, so it was very easy for him to come in and break in,” Moronta said.
But that changed last year, when his tip jar with hundreds of dollars in cash was stolen.
“Through the video system, I was able to catch the guy that stole the money from us,” he said.
Moronta installed his own surveillance camera system. But now it will be a requirement that businesses like his have cameras that are accessible to police.
In downtown White Plains, the new ordinance received mixed reaction.
“It’s crazy on the weekends,” said Katrina Lopez. “There’s a lot of people coming from everywhere — Yonkers, the Bronx.”
“If it’s for safety reasons, I’d probably agree with it,” said Carl Chapman of Spring Valley.
“Of course,” said Agnes Davis. “I feel safer.”
But some others said the cameras are a violation of civil liberties.
“I think it’s an invasion of privacy,” said Clarence Cunningham of White Plains. “I don’t think I should be subjected to someone surveilling me without my permission just to go buy a pack of gum. I don’t think it’s right.”
White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong proposed the law, which was unanimously approved by the city’s Common Council.
“What we want is we want is uniformity,” Chong said.
Chong said having consistently clear video that is accessible is a key to solving crime.
“If we ever have to go in and bring it into court, we have clear images of what’s going on,” he said.
And jewelry store owner Joe Soares seemed to be resigned to the idea.
“It’s like big brother watching you, but that’s one of the perils of having a business,” he said.
Chicago, Milwaukee and other cities have similar laws on the books.
The White Plains law takes effect in February of next year.
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