The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to provide financial incentives to residents and business owners who buy and install security cameras.
Modeled on a similar program in D.C., the Private Security Camera Incentive Program aims to deter and help solve crime.
The program, which will be run by the Montgomery County Police Department, will be limited to “high priority areas” of the county that will be designated by the police chief.
The bill’s lead sponsor, Council Member Craig Rice, said the bill was born from a promise he made to Alexis Jones, whose 17-year-old son, Jailyn Jones, was found dead in a creek in January in Germantown.
Shortly before the council vote Tuesday, Rice recalled her pleading with neighbors to check if their security cameras captured any footage that could lead to her son’s killer.
“One of the first questions she asked was, ‘Was there anybody who saw anything?'” Rice said.
Of the opt-in incentive program, Rice said: “This is not about extending the arm of police. It’s not about infringing on people’s rights. This is about just making sure that people can feel as though they’re a little bit safer in their communities.”
Council Member Sidney Katz and Council President Gabe Albornoz joined as lead sponsors. Council members Will Jawando, Nancy Navarro, Tom Hucker and Andrew Friedson co-sponsored the legislation.
Albornoz said an increase in crime across the county was one of the top issues he heard from residents as he knocked on doors over the past year.
“I think it’s important for us to take advantage of technology to be able to address some real-life problems that we are seeing on the ground right now,” Albornoz said before the council vote.
Jawando supported the bill but also expressed caution, and he urged that the program be put in place “in a methodical way.”
An amendment introduced by Jawando, also approved unanimously, requires the police chief to consult with a diverse group of stakeholders on “putting out the rules of the road about how this program will be implemented.”
Under the bill, the police chief is also required to report annually to the council on the number of rebates and vouchers awarded and how the program is running.