After the Riverside village board in April mandated strict record-keeping requirements and other rules for cash-for-gold stores, trustees on May 7 voted to require that such stores – and some other businesses – install video surveillance cameras that can be reviewed and inspected by police upon request.
“I don’t find this ordinance to be onerous on any business,” said Trustee Joseph Ballerine, who spearheaded the push for the ordinance, last month.
Ballerine said that of the businesses that affected, “99 percent of them already have [cameras] installed.”
The new law requires certain “at-risk” businesses to install cameras, including banks, jewelry stores, cash-for-gold stores, and any package liquor business open after 11 p.m.
Of those businesses existing in the village, only one does not already have a video surveillance system – Cash 4 Gold on Harlem Avenue.
Ballerine pushed for the video cameras in good part, because he doesn’t believe that Riverside’s new law requiring record-keeping at cash-for-gold stores will be followed.
“You’re making the assumption that all of the paperwork will be done,” said Ballerine. “I’m making the assumption that maybe the paperwork won’t be done, maybe it will be done. But guarantees us at least a record, at least a trace.”
Trustee James Reynolds, one of two trustees who expressed reservations about the video requirement at the board’s April 16 meeting, said business owners could just as easily turn off the cameras.
“There are a number of systems that can be turned on and off at will,” Reynolds said.
In the end, the vote to require the cameras was 5 to 0. Trustee Jean Sussman was absent from the May 7 meeting where the vote was taken.
The law does address the possibility that cameras could be turned off through the imposition of a proposed $750 fine for not installing or keeping a camera system in working order at all times.
In addition, the law calls for “conspicuous” signage in those businesses, stating that the premises are under surveillance.
The ordinance also requires video recordings to be archived for 15 days and for those recordings to be available to police within 24 hours. While businesses often cooperate with police requests to view video recordings during criminal investigations, they are not currently required to.
There have been instances where business owners have declined to turn recordings over to police, said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.
“We can’t compel the owners to give us those videotapes right now,” said Weitzel in April. “And, believe me, some owners have turned us down.”