Macon City Council misses forest for the trees

(This post originally attributed the “security camera” regulations to the Macon City Council, rather than the Bibb County Commission. That error has been fixed, below.)

As Erick continues his Magical Media Tour, back in Macon the City Council has again shown that it doesn’t understand band-aids can’t fix a deep gash to the bone.

Just three months ago, the Council Bibb County Commission tried to push through regulations on small business to help them “fight crime.”

The draft code is meant to cover banks, convenience stores, grocery stores, liquor shops and fast-food restaurants, as well as shopping centers of at least four businesses. Cameras would be required on every entrance, including fire exits; on cash registers; and outside on all parking areas.

Understandably, small businessmen and women reacted…poorly…to such a proposal as they had trouble understanding why the tax dollars they already were paying to city government couldn’t be used for a more inventive solution such as deploying sufficient police forces to fight crime utilizing an effective strategy.

Now, sans Erick, the Wizards of Smart in the Macon City Council, learning nothing from their colleagues on the County Commission, have a new solution to fight crime:

Remove advertising from the front of windows in convenience stores so Macon Police Department officers can see in.

Yup.

Wow.

The measure came up after three people were gunned down in Middle Georgia convenience stores last year and hundreds of Indian store workers marched through downtown Macon.

Councilman Ed DeFore called for the regulation change, saying police officers need a rule in place to push store owners to keep their windows clear.

The ordinance would require that 75 percent of store windows inside the city limits be clear and would require cash registers to be visible from outside.

So, hundreds of Indian store workers marched through downtown Macon (which must have greatly pleased Vice President Joe Biden, a lover of Indian store owners) demanding more action from the Macon Police Department and the response from the Macon City Council is to impose additional regulations on store owners concerning the organization of their stores and the advertising they place in the windows on their own property.

Roger Wilco, good buddy.

Although it makes me vomit a little in my throat, I find myself in agreement with Councilwoman Elaine Lucas, who voted against the legislation saying it would also be difficult, if not impossible, for officers to enforce.

Councilman James Timley also voted against the ordinance, calling it a “feel good item.”

And Timley is right.

But Councilman Virgil Watkins, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, said the new ordinance isn’t about strict enforcement.

Instead, it’s a “teaching tool” police can use. He said police officers and store owners he talked to about the ordinance support it.

Violations of the new ordinance would be punishable like violations of other city ordinances, City Attorney Pope Langstaff said, with a maximum fine of $500.

It stretches credibility to think small business would be all upset about crime and all upset about potential mandates to place security cameras on their own dime every few feet in their businesses, but just in love with the idea of being compelled to remove advertising and rearrange their stores.

The only “teaching tool” here for Maconites is that their City Council keeps missing the point about promoting effective measures to combat crime. And it doesn’t start with sparkling clean windows. Because if there isn’t an officer there to look into the store while it is being robbed because there aren’t enough officers on the streets, then this truly is a “feel good item” that leaves Macon in its original predicament.

11 comments

  1. OceanEyes says:

    Forcing businesses or anyone to install cameras in their homes or place of business seems like Big Brother to me.

  2. Chris says:

    Macon has more important things to spend money on than preventing people from getting shot. The Georgia Music Hall of Fame for exampel.

  3. Ramblinwreck says:

    Maybe they should consider bringing back a technique from the 70’s that worked very well. Put officers, or trained civilians, armed with shotguns in an area close to the counter and shoot anybody who walks in and tries to rob the place. Robberies of convenience stores dropped almost to zero when they did this. There’s nothing like the idea that you’ll get cut in half by a 12 gauge with 00 buck to make you think twice about robbing a store.

    • Three Jack says:

      i’m with you rw. instead of clearing the windows, store owners shoot post pictures of the arsenal they have guarding their respective property with notice, “be prepared to die if you enter this store with malice intent”.

  4. Three Jack says:

    how about cops spend more time trying to prevent real crime instead of creating revenue streams via traffic violations.

  5. Tudor says:

    Turns out that although it should not have to be mandated, clearing the windows to increase visibility has been a recommended tactic by the retail industry for a number of years. Stores ought to do it simply because it is recommended. Although it is true that police staffing does not support driving by every store to look in, research has shown that the high percentage of customers/travelers with cell phones have resulted in many calls to 911 by those passing by who witnessed a crime going down. These calls can’t be made if you can’t see what’s going on.

    Having taught robbery prevention courses for more than 20 years, the idea is that you want any potential robber to be “in the spotlight” (ie visible).

    FYI

    • Ramblinwreck says:

      I still like my idea better. The effect would be immediate and you wouldn’t have to waste money and resources on the whole justice process because it would be carried out on the spot. If you’re willing to come into a store I own and kill me to get what you want you’d better be willing to die in the process.

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