The District may soon get more eyes on the street.
At its first legislative meeting of 2016, the D.C. Council unanimously approved an amendment proposed by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen that establishes rebates for local residents, business-owners, and organizations who buy and install security cameras on their properties. The motion reflects a November proposal by Mayor Muriel Bowser—a part of her “Safer, Stronger” public-safety initiative that she touted during a citywide tour yesterday.
Allen’s amendment roughly doubles the number of maximum rebates possible: up to $200 per camera for residents, capping at $500 per residential address, and the same for nonprofit and commercial institutions, but with a maximum rebate of $750 per address. The money would come from a new fund doled out by the mayor and propped up by appropriations, grants, and donations. All cameras for which installers receive rebates must be registered with the Metropolitan Police Department, in order to help track and combat local crime.
“MPD often relies on video footage as an investigative tool,” Allen said, adding that the amendment extends funding for the cameras beyond its original Sept. 30, 2016 sunset date.
Both owners and lessees are eligible for the program, provided that they follow rules to be promulgated by the mayor’s office. These rules will govern “proof of purchase and system verification,” signed agreements with MPD requiring that installers “shall not use the system to intentionally record specific individuals conducting lawful activity,” and the identification of priority locations determined by “crime levels and other public safety indicators” in police service areas. The amendment stipulates that there shall be “at least one” in each Ward, to ensure equity.
The rebates will be exempt from D.C. income tax. Resulting from procedural motions today sparked by Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May, the Council may vote to amend the approved amendment to include vouchers in addition to rebates under the program, so that poorer residents won’t have to pay up-front for the cameras.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery