City council proposal requires cameras outside certain Houston businesses in order to fight crime

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston City Council discussed requiring security camera updates for bars and convenience stores in its meeting on Wednesday.

Though members discussed the topic, they did not vote on the new rules just yet.

The ordinance would require five types of businesses to have security cameras installed that face the parking lot -- bars, nightclubs, sexually-oriented businesses, convenience stores and game rooms.

The hope is that the cameras would deter criminals from hanging around the parking lots, as well as help solve crimes after they take place.

Council members say they are getting a lot of support for the measure from community members who have been complaining about large groups of people hanging around the outside of stores.

The ordinance has wide support from the city council, but it was not voted on at the meeting.

The vote was delayed for at least a week because Council Member Mike Knox, among others, wanted to know why all businesses are not required to have these cameras.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said that this ordinance would be a first step, not the last word.

Other council members were worried that store owners would not be able to afford the cameras and wanted to see if there is a way to help offset the costs.

Turner says the cameras in this ordinance cover areas not typically covered by store cameras.

"The reality is that we have had shootings and people killed in and around, not just convenience stores, but gas stations, bars and others, in the parking lot outside," Turner said. "These cameras are not to be looking inside. This is public-facing."

Council members supporting the ordinance say Houston police have reported 7,000 crimes at stores and bars where these cameras are not currently located.

The council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance next week.

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