New Houston ordinance requires night-life businesses to install security cameras, turn footage over to police

The 15-1 council vote came after objections from the American Civil Liberties Union, which decried the measure as unconstitutional.

Photo of Jay R. Jordan
Houston has a new ordinance requiring certain businesses to install security cameras.

Houston has a new ordinance requiring certain businesses to install security cameras.

Alan Powdrill/Getty Images

New Houston rules require certain businesses to install security cameras and flood lights in an effort to reduce violent crime.

City Council passed the new ordinance in a 15-1 vote Wednesday. The mandate applies to all bars, nightclubs, sexually-oriented businesses, convenience stores and game rooms inside city limits, according to Nora Mishanec of the Houston Chronicle. Those businesses will be forced to hold security footage for 30 days and turn it over to police within 72 hours of their request. The move is part of Mayor Sylvester Turner's One Safe Houston initiative to combat 2022's rise in crime. 

"Today, we are letting people know, if you are loitering outside of convenience stores, sexually-oriented businesses, bars, and committing crimes, we will see you on camera," Mayor Pro-tem Martha Castex-Tatum told ABC13 reporter Tom Abrahams. "And if you are committing those crimes, we will make sure that you will pay the penalty for causing a nuisance in the City of Houston."

At-Large Council Member Mike Knox, a former Houston police officer, was the lone nay vote, Mishanec reported. He said the onus on businesses to install cameras is unfair and also believed the measure doesn't go far enough to reduce crime.

The vote came over the objection from the American Civil Liberties Union, which sent a letter to council members this week claiming the move was unconstitutional and made the businesses "extensions of a citywide surveillance scheme," Mishanec reported. 

The businesses will have 90 days to install the cameras and additional lighting. The ordinance calls for the lights and cameras to reach from the building to the street. Establishments will be forced to pay a $500 fine if they do not comply. 

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