Get a cam, get a rebate: Mayor signs security camera legislation

DC is looking for way to make the city safer for residents -- or at least, quicker to catch criminals. The Mayor just signed new legislation into law that provides a rebate for residents or businesses who purchase exterior security cameras and make the footage available to MPD if requested.

Note: This program is not retroactive. You have to apply for the grant once the program launches. However, any resident who purchased a camera after September 22, 2015 is eligible for a rebate (the date the DC Council approved the legislation).

  • Up to $200 of the purchase price per camera installed on the exterior of a residential building, with a maximum rebate of up to $500 per residential address
  • Up to $200 of the purchase price per camera installed on the exterior of a business, commercial, nonprofit or religious institution with a maximum rebate of up to $750 per address

Obviously, the goal is two-fold. The more cameras, the thinking goes, the less likely criminals will be to brazenly approach homes or businesses, for fear of being caught on camera. Secondly, MPD gets a new source of video for suspects that can decrease the time needed to find perpetrators. No matter what, extra security isn't a bad idea. I have cameras at my home, and if nothing else, at least I'll have the video of the person who broke in and stole something (doesn't prevent the break-in).

There are many cameras on the market, some more expensive than others. Besides a camera, you'll need to make sure you have an external power source, wifi (or ethernet cable to the camera) and that the camera can work in the outdoors. I'm partial to Nest Camera, but you'll have to get an enclosure to keep it safe from weather.

After the DC Council voted to approve the legislation, I asked Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd for a copy of the bill (see PDF). Todd wrote, “I am proud to support this legislation. Since I took office, I have prioritized public safety and Tuesday’s vote is no different. This program will make our neighborhoods safer and more secure.”

Here's the Mayor's press release:

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

Mayor Bowser Signs Safer, Stronger Law to Deter Crime and Help Solve Open Cases

New rebate program incentivizes property owners to install security cameras

(Washington, DC) – Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the Private Security Camera System Incentive Program Emergency Act of 2016, which creates a tangible and effective tool to fight crime.  The legislation, originally introduced in September 2015 as part of Mayor Bowser’s comprehensive public safety agenda, creates a program that encourages businesses, religious institutions, nonprofits and other property owners to install security cameras. 

“This law allows empowers members of our community to stop crime, and sends a clear message that we will no longer tolerate bad behavior in anywhere in our city,” said Mayor Bowser. “I want to thank the DC Council for working with my Administration to advance sensible policies that make the District safer and stronger.”

The program will provide rebates for the purchase and registration of a security camera system on the exterior of a building owned or leased by a resident, business, nonprofit or religious institution. The bill also establishes a special fund to implement the rebate program.

These cameras will be registered with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), which will use footage to identify criminals after crimes have occurred.  In addition, the cameras will help serve as a deterrent to anyone considering a crime against a property.  Once the cameras are registered with MPD, officers will be able to request the video footage while investigating any crimes that occurred in the vicinity of the camera. MPD will not have live video access to the cameras.

The program provides a rebate of:

  • Up to $200 of the purchase price per camera installed on the exterior of a residential building, with a maximum rebate of up to $500 per residential address
  • Up to $200 of the purchase price per camera installed on the exterior of a business, commercial, nonprofit or religious institution with a maximum rebate of up to $750 per address
  • The Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants, an agency within the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice cluster, will administer the program once the regulations have been approved.

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.



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