Maryland Surveillance Law for Retail Stores to Be Expanded

Legislation requiring big-box retail stores in Baltimore County to install video surveillance cameras for their parking lots will be introduced by the end of the year, a county councilman said yesterday.

The regulations would be included in an amendment to a law, enacted last spring, requiring shopping centers with 15 or more retail businesses to install the security cameras. A proposal that retail stores larger than 75,000 square feet be required to comply with the law was among the recommendations from a task force appointed to study the security camera law.

After the committee released its recommendations in September, County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, a sponsor of the original bill, said he would consider them. Yesterday, Kamanetz said he would submit legislation to incorporate the recommendations. County Executive James T. Smith Jr., who had sought the creation of the task force, said he supported the proposal.

The committee, made up of business leaders, community members and police officials, also recommended that businesses be allowed to combine the use of security guards and surveillance cameras to comply with the law. Finally, it proposed that the county provide low-interest loans to eligible businesses to help pay for the installation of the cameras. The maximum loan would be $50,000.

Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Ruxton Democrat, said he would try to include a formula that would allow security guards to be used in place of security cameras. "What is the pan vision of cameras as opposed to the peripheral vision of a human being, and how do we equate that to square footage?" Kamenetz said.

The county's mall-security bill was passed in the wake of the Feb. 18 killing of St. Paul's School educator William A. Bassett, who was shot in the parking garage of Towson Town Center.

Joan Hatfield, president and chief executive officer of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, said businesses owners in the county largely support the new security measures.

"There isn't a shopping center owner I know of that doesn't feel that good surveillance, good security brings clients," Hatfield said. "You're going to go shopping where you feel safe."


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