Security camera rebates begin, just not for Petworth (updated: now it does!)

Mayor Bowser signing the security camera law into effect (photo courtesy DC Mayor's office).

Mayor Bowser signing the security camera law into effect (photo courtesy DC Mayor's office).

Update 3/30/16: DC gov announced that it has added PSAs 404, 406 and 407 into the program based on resident feedback. Residents may now take advantage of the rebates. See the DC Security Camera website for more information.

When it was first announced, the idea behind the “Private Security Camera Incentive Program” was if you buy an outdoor security camera, DC would provide a rebate to cover the cost. All residents, businesses and churches were eligible — but now that the program launched this week, it seems not everyone is eligible, especially if you live in Petworth. 

The DC Council passed emergency legislation earlier this year called the “Private Security Camera Incentive Program Emergency Act of 2016.” The purpose of the program is to provide financial rebates to residents and businesses who purchase outdoor security cameras and who make the recordings available to MPD upon request. Rebates are up to $500 per home or $750 for businesses and churches ($200 per camera). With greater access to video footage, MPD might have a better ability to deal with street-level crime, from violent offenses to property damage and theft.

DC has been trying to get the word out about the program for months — they just did a poor job communicating the limitations on launch, eligibility and participation.

To be eligible, you or your business have to reside in certain priority Police Service Areas (PSAs) — none are in Petworth. If you live in Petworth PSAs 404 or 407, for example, you’re not eligible to apply for a rebate until August, and that’s assuming there’s any money remaining in the $500,000 fund. PSAs 403 and 405, close to Petworth, are eligible.

Eligible PSAs include:

You can find your PSA based on your address via an online lookup. 

So why skip Petworth and other parts of the city? My best guess after speaking with Christopher Dyer, the security camera program administrator with the Office of Victim Service and Justice Grants, is funding. By initially limiting the rebate program to only certain PSAs, selected as those with the highest rate of violent crime, DC limits the total amount of money needed to fund the program. Come August, when all PSAs become eligible, participation depends upon any money remaining in the $500,000 fund, and is first come, first served.

I asked Mr. Dyer why this appeared to be a delayed rollout, and why only certain PSAs were chosen, and others were left out of the rebate program.

“There is no ‘delayed rollout,’” Mr. Dyer replied via email. “The legislation creating this program requires that we create priority areas so as to ensure that the residents and businesses in areas most impacted by violent crime are first in line to be able to take advantage of the program.”

According to Mr. Dyer,  the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, along with the Office of Victim Service and Justice Grants, reviewed crime data from MPD to identify PSAs with the crime levels that should be prioritized. 

“The legislation… required that PSAs with high crime levels be prioritized and that at least one PSA in each Ward have at least one priority PSA,” wrote Mr. Dyer. 

Enlarge to see MPD Districts and PSAs

“In the emergency regulations issued last week, we selected a total of 33 priority PSAs citywide based on violent crime rates over the past year; each police district has at least three priority PSAs,” wrote Mr. Dyer.

Only addresses within the priority PSAs will be able to submit rebate applications. Beginning August 1, addresses anywhere in the District will be able to submit rebate applications, provided funding is still available.

The permanent version of this legislation is in the “Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2016” (Bill 21-360), and is scheduled to receive a final vote by the DC Council on March 1st. 

“Because the regulations were issued both as emergency and proposed, the public can submit comments to them,” said Mr. Dyer. “We welcome comments from the public, particularly if they believe the crime rates in their PSA are as high as the rates in the priority PSAs.”

You can submit written comments to Christopher Dyer, Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants, 441 4th St. NW, Suite 727N, Washington, DC 20001, or via email to Comments must be received by March 11, 2016. 

Either way, having a camera and recording system can be a good idea, if you have the money to afford it. If you’re in Petworth, just don’t count on DC gov to help cover the cost.

Program Details: 
 - Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants
 - Metropolitan Police Department
 - How to file a rebate request

Related Article: 
 - Get a cam, get a rebate: Mayor signs security camera legislation (Jan 20, 2016)