(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.)
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.
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.