The Brookhaven City Council is considering adding surveillance cameras around the city to enhance safety.
The discussion comes following the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners passing an ordinance in 2022 requiring convenience stores and high-risk businesses to own and operate a video surveillance system. The Atlanta City Council passed a similar ordinance in August.
At the Sept. 12 meeting, Brookhaven City Attorney Jeremy Berry presented council members with the positives and negatives of placing security cameras around the city.
Councilmember Linley Jones said the discussion has been going on for years because a handful of Brookhaven businesses “are targeted repeatedly for either break-ins or for violent crime.”
“The genesis of the conversation is that these businesses are allowing the crime and break-ins to go unaddressed. They know that they have the crime problems and they don’t have cameras. I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that they are going to be supportive of having cameras,” Jones said.
Berry said there are “significant legal concerns” with cameras around the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable search and seizure by the government.
“Putting a camera up allows the camera to capture what happened, but the police, of course, would need a warrant to be able to actually access that information,” said Berry.
Discussions include who would pay for camera equipment, which would cost approximately $2,600 per camera plus maintenance and footage storage; surveillance versus monitoring; and how to get businesses to comply with code enforcement.
“Do we look at a heat map of crimes where crimes are committed to inform that decision of where we require cameras? Do we look, for example, at convenience stores or apartment homes, hotels? There may be an overlap of the heat zones and those businesses, but we need to be thoughtful about where we actually require the cameras,” Berry said.
Interim District 2 Councilmember Jen Owens agreed.
“We want to find a balance between providing good safe spaces and tools needed to keep our spaces safe, and making sure that it’s not an onerous place to own and run a business in our city,” Owens said.
Brookhaven Deputy City Manager Steve Chapman plans to engage stakeholders including Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta Apartment Association, ACLU and neighboring cities. The city of Dunwoody is considering a camera ordinance, said Berry, who has consulted Brookhaven Police Chief Brandon Gurley and Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan.
Staff plans to present a drafted ordinance to the council in December.
In related news, Brookhaven Police Department announced this week new speed enforcement measures in school zones.