Florida county's surveillance proposal draws ire from businesses

A proposal that all Broward County retail businesses must install around-the-clock video cameras in their parking lots has drawn opposition from a statewide business organization, which says the plan would be too costly.

"The concern is that it's a very expensive undertaking for businesses, both small and large, to install and operate cameras that would operate 24 hours a day," said Samantha Hunter Padgett, a spokeswoman for the Florida Retail Federation.

County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion proposed the ordinance in response to the killing of Sheriff's Deputy Chris Reyka, who was shot outside a 24-hour Walgreens in Pompano Beach last August. The ordinance would require retail businesses to blanket their parking lots with surveillance cameras at all hours and store the tapes for 30 days.

"It's definitely a public safety thing; it is to protect the patrons," county spokeswoman Kimberly Maroe said.

Last year Pompano Beach passed a similar ordinance. The retail federation wants Broward business owners to attend the Aug. 12 meeting when commissioners will vote on the issue.

"We would just like them to defer it, to give them time to consider the issue," Padgett said.

The cameras won't deter crime, she added, only help police catch the perpetrator.

Eggelletion said that's reason enough.

"What I hope to accomplish is this: They will certainly give us an idea of who's committing these crimes and they will certainly give law enforcement a better opportunity to solve these crimes," he said.

The commissioner also said the cameras shouldn't drain a business' bank account. A four-camera video system can go for $299, he said. "The technology is there and the cost is extremely low."

However, Tim Neal, owner of Neal Property Management, which runs 11 mid-size commercial centers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, said installing cameras and storing video could prove costly for retailers.

"It could be a financial burden," he said. "We all like it when some burglar gets caught by a camera, but there's a cost incurred."

That expense, he added, could be passed on to consumers.

Christina Kimling, who with her husband, Michael, owns Kimling's Academy of Martial Arts in Oakland Park, recently spent $1,500 to add a parking lot camera. It helped capture a man trying to break into a car.

"I wouldn't be without it," she said. "I think it would also deter people. If you look up and see a camera, you're not going to want to do anything."

A hearing is set for 2 p.m. Aug. 12 in the Government Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., .