The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation establishing a program in which qualified residents and businesses could receive financial incentives for installing security cameras. However, no money has been appropriated for the program and it’s not clear when it would start.
The council introduced the legislation last month, sponsored by Council Member Craig Rice, with the hope of deterring crime, which has been on the rise throughout the county and the greater Washington region in the last year.
The legislation establishes a private security camera incentive program within the police department, in which an individual or business could apply for a voucher or rebate to offset the cost of security cameras. The property where the camera would be installed would need to be located within a “priority area,” designated by the police chief, according to the bill. A “priority area” would be defined as “one or more police districts” in which the chief determines additional cameras are needed based on crime levels and other factors.
A police spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry from Bethesda Beat on Tuesday about what specific criteria would be used to determine a “priority area.”
Council Member Andrew Friedson, a co-sponsor of the bill, told Bethesda Beat that the program isn’t up and running yet because the bill was just approved and money would need to be appropriated first.
The bill states that a rebate or voucher could not exceed the cost of a camera but the amounts provided would ultimately depend on how much money is appropriated.
The county’s Office of Management and Budget has estimated that $500,000 would lead to the purchase of about 1,400 cameras, and $1 million would lead to the purchase of about 2,800. Kristin Trible, Rice’s deputy chief of staff, had also previously told Bethesda Beat that Rice’s office was exploring the possibility of state and federal grant funding.
In 2016, the District of Columbia established a similar security camera incentive program that provides an opportunity to apply for a rebate of up to $200 per camera, for a maximum rebate of $500 per residential property or $750 per nonresidential property.
Rice said during Tuesday’s meeting the idea for the camera incentive program came after speaking with the mother of 17-year-old Jailyn Jones – a Northwest High School senior who was killed in January. Police have charged another Northwest student in connection with Jones’s death who they say Jones had planned to meet with three days before he was found dead.
“One of the first questions she asked was, was there anybody who saw anything?” he said.
Rice said he promised Jones’s mother that he would do something to help solve crimes, give victims a sense of justice and help the community feel safer.
“I understand that many people are speculating about the role of the police and over policing neighborhoods,” he said. “Those are all justifiable concerns. But do keep in mind that we can’t forget about the victims in our community. We can’t forget about their voices and the needs that they have.”
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org