By Jeffrey Hawkins
It wasn’t a long story and one that might just fly under the radar, but it raised some important questions about local, city, state or federal requirements for private businesses. Should government entities be able to require businesses—via a law or ordinance—to have some type of security measure in place?
The Maryland mandate was met with some resistance by business owners, but police and county officials noted that convenience stores and gas stations in their county accounted for 27% of all armed robberies in one month alone.
In response, the county now requires things like recorded CCTV with cameras mounted in specified locations, safes that are bolt mounted, and walk-up pay windows.
But this is not the first of these types of security requirements:
- In 1993, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City Council enacted an ordinance requiring recorded CCTV and giving the responsibility to inspect businesses to the police, however the ordinance was never enforced and most agree it has been ineffective.
- In 2011, Newark, New Jersey City Council approved legislation requiring late night restaurants to have armed security guards.
- In 2012, Byron, Georgia considered similar laws requiring CCTV cameras for establishments that sell alcohol.
- And this year, 2013, Charleston, South Carolina City Council debated to enact a new ordinance that would require bars operating after midnight to hire private security officers to not only patrol inside but also all sidewalks and parking lots in the area.
When I went to train in Israel several years ago, we were able to meet with one of the heads of the police in Tel Aviv.
Among the topics he covered was the fact that all businesses, as part of the business license application, is told what security measures they must have in place, including armed security guards.
He went on to say that they have a list of which businesses are required to have what security measures, and if they drive by or go into the business and find they are in violation, they can shut the business down.
That is tough, but their world is a bit different than ours.
So I guess the question all this raises is: Should government require security for private businesses and if so, how far should it go? Will we see a day in the United States when, like Israel, all businesses will be required to have security or face being shut down?