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Bill Passes Council “to create an incentive program for residents and neighborhood establishments to purchase and install security camera systems”

by Prince Of Petworth January 5, 2016 at 3:40 pm 40 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user John Sonderman

From Council Member Allen’s Office:

“At today’s legislative meeting of the DC Council, Councilmembers voted unanimously to pass Councilmember Charles Allen’s bill, the Private Security Camera System Incentive Program Emergency Act of 2016, to create an incentive program for residents and neighborhood establishments to purchase and install security camera systems.

Councilmember Allen said, “It is clear that security cameras deter crime and help MPD hold individuals accountable for criminal acts by adding extra eyes on the street. This program will put cameras where they’re needed most by targeting the highest crime areas in each Ward and nearly doubling the number of maximum rebates available.”

Councilmember Allen added, “I’m grateful for the support of the entire Council and Mayor Bowser for this program. This $500,000 investment is an important step toward safer streets in neighborhoods across the city.”

The Council passed Councilmember Allen’s bill as introduced. The Private Security Camera System Incentive Program Emergency Act nearly doubles the number of maximum rebates possible, while maintaining a generous incentive: Up to $200 per camera installed and registered, with a maximum rebate of $500 per residential property and $750 per business, nonprofit, or religious institution, which often have a larger property footprint. Councilmember Allen’s effort also ensures that the highest crime area in each Ward receives priority for rebates, extends the length of time funds are available, and extends eligibility for the rebates to nonprofit organizations.”

  • Caroline

    Don’t cameras on residential property just capture what’s happening directly in front of the house? That footage might be helpful for package thefts and the occasional burglary, but it seems to me that the worst kinds of crime happen out on the sidewalks, beyond the range of the camera.

    • Guillermo Brown

      Incorrect. My camera reaches the alley and this year MPD was able to ID a suspect based on some footage I sent.

    • K

      Depends on the angle of the camera. My old neighbor had one of his cameras aimed at the alley behind our houses. We used it once to figure out how our dog got out of our fence and MPD used is at least once to get a pic of a guy who broke into the house on the other side of our alley.

      A few weeks ago our neighbor had a incident and MPD came over to ask to see our camera footage since it appeared our camera captured some of our neighbors driveway. Usually it would except our camera had recently broke.

    • frustrated

      Based on the number of drug deals we see out our front window everyday, I think an front cam and alley cam in our spot would pretty much fill the DC jail.

    • Cameras capture whatever you aim them at. Depending on the angles of your windows or porch you can capture quite a lot. If multiple people on a block have cameras they can also help to provide different angles of the same perp, in case there’s something distinguishing that’s missed from the primary angle (such as a car).

    • Anon

      One of my neighbors has been circulated all kinds of interesting footage from his house cameras over the years. From bike theft, to muggings, to (yes) packages, to getting better images of people fleeing another location.

  • Condoer

    Does this mean I can get a Nest cam for my condo and I’ll get reimbursed for it? I hope they set up a webpage or something to clarify the who, what, how.

    • jcm

      They still need to write the actual rules. It will only be for exterior cameras in certain designated high-crime areas.

    • mcd

      Agree. If they are going to reimburse, I would happily install one at the front of my 5 unit condo building facing the street and register it w MPD. Deter package theft and also potentially help MPD with crime in the area for free? Count me in.

      • GBinCH

        +1. We had two instances in front of my condo building in December (mugging and shooting). I would love to have had a camera so that I could give the footage to the cops. Things like this help protect your own property and people around you.

  • Morton

    It would be handy if, as part of the rebate package that is developed, they include a list of cameras that would be eligible for the rebate. For someone like me who is not tech-savvy, I’d love to just be given a list of good cameras to select from. I recognize the city can’t necessarily endorse certain cameras, but it could give a list of cameras that are known to operate at an image quality that is actually useful to MPD.

    • Shawshanked

      I have written about it before on here but the most painless and easy to use i have ever seen is called ARLO. Camera is battery powered and wifi with a magnetic housing that can be hung almost anywhere. No wires on the camera at all including for power make it incredibly easy to set up. I have changed the batteries once in the 7 plus months i have had it. You can set it up to record based on movement and there is an easy to use app on your phone. Nest is also widely regarded but you would need a power outlet which isn’t always available outside.

      • Genuinely curious.. The easy installation of the ARLO sounds like the flip side would be it’d be easy to take down and render useless by removing the batteries or something similar. Is it?

        • KenyonDweller

          I think you have to position it so that the camera will capture them before they can get to it.

        • Timebomb

          I have Arlos. Prob as hard as clipping a cable on a wired camera. Maybe harder since I have mine mounted high up on a mount you’d have to unscrew it from before you could open the battery compartment. In any case, you have to know the camera is there, make your way up to where it’s mounted, and all without ever having your face captured.
          Nothing’s perfect.

      • Thanks, been looking for a battery operated one!

      • Timebomb

        I use Arlos outside and Nest cams inside. The Arlos are weatherproof and battery-powered (Nests are not meant for outdoor use at all). Nest offers two-way audio, which is great for monitoring the dogs and making sure they’re not freaking out (and reassuring them if they are).

        • Timebomb

          (I should note Arlos do not provide any audio)

          • AE

            Just looked on Amazon – ARLO Q avail Jan 6th has audio

      • sunnytime

        Another vote for ARLO! It’s fantastic, especially the app! I like getting the motion alerts when I’m not home and it’s also convenient to be able to pull up the app for MPD if they’re (unfortunately) investigating something on your street.

    • anonymous

      But are they waterproof/weatherproof?

  • Cassie

    Do criminals cover their faces more in countries with extensive CCTV?

    • GBinCH

      You don’t just ID someone by face. If a crime is reported quickly, the cops will be driving around looking for individuals who match a description. If a camera shows white shoes, dark hoodie and a backpack (for instance), that gives the cops quite a lot to go on.

    • FridayGirl

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there are fewer criminals in countries with more extensive CCTV, but I have zero evidence or correlation to go on here. Just a hunch.

  • Progressive

    The last thing our City needs is Orwellian surveillance. I figured DC residents wouldn’t succumb to this sort of fear.

    • dcd

      Spoken like someone who has a safe, secure place for packages to be delivered.

      • Anon Spock

        In theory everyone could have such a place: po boxes, alternate delivery location, mail dropbox.

        • Anon5

          Well, in theory you should be able to have packages delivered to your home without thieves stealing them.

        • anonymous

          Your theory is flawed. I should be able to receive packages and mail or anything left on my property without the worry of it being stolen.

  • bruno

    Ugh. Awful. Too big brother-ish.

    • Anon5

      Except the cameras will be installed and maintained by private citizens, not big brother. There will be no centralized storing of recorded data because there is no centralization.

      • bruno

        Ugh. Awful. Too big-brotherish.

        • anon

          I wonder what kind of novel George Orwell would have written if in London in the late 1940’s you couldn’t ever have anything delivered to your house because some jerk would take the package, and while you were at work or on vacation some guys would break into your home and steal everything, and you couldn’t expect to walk down the street at night without getting mugged or assaulted?

  • DRC

    Hmm, seems like DC is once again passing the burden of public safety onto the public themselves. Sure, go buy a Nest camera and get reimbursed for it. But you can’t save the footage without paying $10 a month for cloud storage. And who pays for the replacement when the camera breaks because you mounted it outside to see potential criminals? (it’s not weather proof) The city is getting a hell of a deal if they can convince it’s citizens to foot the bill on CCTV.

    • dunning-kruger

      The purpose of this program is to share $500k of the burden getting a decent network of cameras going which will be in the spread across private citizens and not centralized with the police. You may be shocked to learn that there are cameras that aren’t nest.
      Isn’t it kind of obvious that the public should be involved in protecting themselves from themselves? People piss and moan about all the crime they witness but cops don’t and sadly for these people cops can’t make arrests on hearsay; then they roll out a program to subsidize people’s surveillance systems and you whine about them trying to get the public involved.

    • You really don’t understand the goal of this program. Like, at all.

      • DRC

        If that is the case, then the article does a terrible job explaining the goals of this program. So you guys are saying the city is paying me to put a camera system inside my house that only helps the police if my house gets robbed? Or is it like I originally thought and they are paying me to put a camera outside so if crime happens in front of my house, they can ask me for the footage?

    • Dan

      Nah. They’re doing the opposite. They’re allocating **public resources** to give you a half price security system.

      Got a home and a business. Both in “high crime areas” (we’ll see where they draw the lines) The second these rules come out, I’m buying cameras for both and waiting for my sweet $750 rebate check.

      • Dan

        Sorry, $1,250 rebate check. $500 for home, $750 for business.

        That’s pretty close to “free security cameras.”

        Can’t have a cop everywhere all the time. Why not encourage citizens to use technology to their advantage? Love the idea that neighbors could coordinate the angle on their cameras to cover more ground.


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