SURVEILLANCE VIDEO ON DEMAND MOVES AHEAD

WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE-EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey January 28, 2014:

White Plains Common Council  heard from Police Chief James Bradley last night about  ”tweaks” to the entrance/exit video surveillance requirements ordinance  being contemplated by the Council to be passed in February. The new ordinance, tabled two months in succession,  requires liquor stores, pharmacies, restaurants, Service Station Mini-Markets, delis,  check-cashing services and pawn shops and bars staying open past midnight  to record identifiable face images of patrons entering and exiting their premises that would be available on demand by the Department of Public Safety for review.

 Chief Bradley assured the Council  police would work with the current surveillance  video technology  present stores have  “perhaps simply pointing them (the cameras) in the right direction,” he said. Concerns had been raised that equipment would cost establishments over $1,000 to install.

The chief gave the impression the Department “would probably grant certificates of compliance” if the equipment provided acceptable images of faces of patrons entering and leaving the premises. 

The Chief said even though the ordinance as revised does not say a subpoena or warrant has to be required in advance for police to obtain the surveillance footage  (on demand) during an ongoing investigation, the police would formally file a subpoena.

The chief left the assumption that  presumably the owner would be more than happy to turn over the surveillance footage when a crime or incident was connected to his/her property.

What is different about the new ordinance is the Building Department has  been written out of the  ordinance and will not have the same instant access to the video as the police and fire bureaus. The Chief said the police would visit all establishments they judge affected by the ordinance, inspect the video equipment they have or what they need and work with the establishments for the 8 frames a second speed the ordinance requests. Karen Pasquale, asked why 8 frames a second said that was the speed the Police Bureau equipment runs.

The video footage still “must be available to the White Plains Building and Public Safety Departments for inspections (as distinct from review of footage), at all times, during which the business is open to the public to ensure compliance with requirements set forth in this chapter.”

The Chief also noted that instead of “continuous “ surveillance recording, the surveillance may start “on motion,” that is, the camera rolls when motion is detected. This requirement, one of the criticisms leveled at the ordinance by the owner of  Vino 100 who spoke about this at the last Common Council “Citizens to Be Heard” segment. 

Closing the brief discussion, Councilwoman Milagros Lequona commented, as the owner of Vino 100 did last month, that liquor stores and grocers outside the BID district were affected and they should be reached out to.

 The Advisor to the Mayor Karen Pasquale said the reason the ordinance was originally put on the consent agenda, was to alert persons the city was thinking about making this law in the city, and to  gather their reaction to it. 

However, WPCNR notes that at the time this ordinance appeared for the first time on the agenda, the Mayor made no detailed remarks on the Council meeting telecast, introducing the ordinance, what it did  and that the city was eagerly waiting for citizen input. No public hearing was scheduled on the ordinance. In his brief reading of the ordinance definition when it appeared two months ago (not the full ordinance), he did not ask for community input on the ordinance nor did he specifically read the ordinance for their reaction. The ordinance was presented privately to the downtown Business Improvement District, mostly made up of property owners who expressed a favorable opinion of the ordinance.

The former Common Council President told me the council expected the ordinance to be voted on next Common Council Meeting.

RECREATION FEE NEWS

Wayne Bass, Commissioner of Recreation and Parks spoke briefly about fee changes next year in Recreation and Parks. He told me  admission to the ice rink would go up $1 ($7 a public session for residents), and that a fee would be charged for local teams wanting a city field for practices for $40 an hour. 

Asked about the city plans to pay to “bubble” enclose the tennis courts at Delfino Park, Bass said the city is looking for a corporate entity to construct the bubble and manage the courts.

 

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