The Prince George’s County Council debated a bill on Feb. 21 that would incentivize businesses and homeowners to install private security cameras on their property.
The bill, also known as Jayz Agnew’s Law, aims to increase the number of private security cameras on personal property and provide assistance to public safety amid a nationwide crime spike.
The ordinance was introduced in response to the killing of 13-year-old Jayz Agnew last November. Agnew was shot and killed while raking leaves in front of his Temple Hills home. An arrest has yet to be made, in part, due to the lack of surveillance footage in the area, according to Agnew’s mother, Juanita Agnew.
Agnew expressed her frustration and despair with the lack of security cameras in her Temple Hills community and across the county, which has impacted the investigation of her son’s murder.
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“After going forward in the investigation with the police, what I was told is that not only did my immediate neighbors didn’t have cameras, but there was a few cameras on the street,” Agnew said. “That to me is a hard pill to swallow as a mom.”
Agnew hopes the bill will not only help find justice for violent crime victims, like her son, but also for other crimes impacting the community, such as illegal dumping.
Bill sponsor and chair of the health, human services and public safety committee Krystal Oriadha echoed Agnew’s sentiments in an emotional plea and highlighted that the proposed measure will be a step in the right direction in providing justice for families impacted by crime.
“The cameras would assist public safety agencies in decreasing crime and illegal dumpings by creating an additional tool for law enforcement,” Oriadha said.
Under the proposed bill, residents and businesses that are in “priority areas” will be eligible to receive up to a $200 rebate or voucher for the cost of the security camera and up to a $100 rebate or voucher for subscription costs.
Residents are limited to one security camera purchase, while businesses are limited to two.
The bill also delegates responsibility to the police chief or a designee to identify “priority areas” for the distribution of the vouchers. Priority areas are locations with higher crime rates and will be determined by crime statistics that will be updated yearly.
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Proponents of the bill said the bill’s goal is to not only help public safety agencies provide justice for victims of crime, but also to act as a possible deterrent for criminals.
District 8 council member Edward Burroughs III is hopeful the bill is a sign that the county will begin taking a more holistic approach to public safety by attempting to reduce crime through community efforts.
“It has been the philosophy of this county that public safety is simply adding tens of millions of dollars into the police budget,” Burroughs said. “I do believe programs like this can contribute to crime reduction.”
If the county council passes the bill, Prince George’s County will join neighboring Montgomery County and Washington, D.C., in providing rebates to residents and businesses for security cameras.
Agnew emphasizes that the bill will have a lasting impact on the Prince George’s County community.
“Not only is [the bill] going to help trying to find who shot Jayz … but there are other sectors that we will benefit as a people,” Agnew said. “Justice for Jayz is not only justice for Jayz — justice for Jayz is justice for every 13-year-old.”