DC security camera incentive leaves poor behind

WASHINGTON — Changes are coming to D.C.’s security camera program that will enable low-income residents to participate.

When the program was launched in February, it was limited to high-crime areas; in August, it was opened to the entire city. But The Washington Post reports that people living in poorer neighborhoods cannot afford the cameras, and that most of the cameras have been purchased in high-income areas.

D.C. has been giving residents and businesses an incentive to get outdoor security cameras by offering to reimburse buyers for them.

So far, more than 1,000 cameras have been purchased, but the program seems to be leaving out low-income residents.

Mayor Muriel Bowser wants to begin a voucher program so low-income residents can get the cameras without having to pay for them up front. A budget of $500,000 has been set aside for the Private Security Camera Incentive Program. The camera rebates will last as long as the money holds out.

The program pays up to $200 per camera for property owners, with a maximum of $500 per residence.  For businesses and churches, the program pays $750.

Under D.C.’s Private Security Camera System Incentive Program, property owners buy the security cameras.  But before the city reimburses them for the cameras, the property owners have to register the camera in a police database. The network of cameras across the city helps law enforcement to monitor and investigate crimes, but police can only access the camera footage if the property owner gives permission.

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