The Prince George’s County Council voted 9-2 Tuesday to mandate the installation of security cameras in high-occupancy residential buildings and age-restricted senior living facilities in the county.

The new law requires residential properties with more than 100 units and senior living facilities to install and maintain 24-hour security cameras at each entry and exit point and in parking lots and garages.

The bill comes amid a rise in crime across the county. In 2023, violent crimes have increased 8 percent and property crimes have increased 50 percent compared to the same time last year, according to Prince George’s County Police Department data.

District 4 council member Ingrid Watson said the bill aims to ensure the safety of county residents.

“I think [the bill is] definitely something I want to do in my district, specifically keeping our seniors safe,” Watson said.

At a public hearing Tuesday, Prince George’s County residents, landlords and legislators expressed mixed feelings regarding the new law.

State Sen. Alonzo T. Washington, who represents District 22 — which includes parts of Prince George’s County — wrote a letter of endorsement for the bill.

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“As someone who was raised in apartment complexes around Prince George’s County, Senator Washington knows the fear and unease that can come with living in a complex without proper security protections,” the letter said. “These cameras provide an additional layer of safety and peace of mind for residents.”

Felice Gant, a representative of the Hillcrest-Marlow Heights Civic Association in the county, said that having cameras installed in senior facilities will provide benefits.

Gant said footage from cameras that she installed outside her home helped police apprehend people who committed car break-ins in her community.
But several people, including at-large council member Mel Franklin, expressed opposition to the bill.
They raised concerns about the substantial cost associated with security cameras and enforcement challenges, arguing that cameras will not alleviate security issues in the county.
Franklin said because the county’s permitting, inspections and enforcement department — which is responsible for inspecting security cameras under the new law — is underfunded, it is “unrealistic” to expect the department to successfully inspect all cameras.

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Ryan Washington, the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington’s government affairs manager for Maryland, said at the hearing while security cameras offer valuable evidence for legal proceedings, there is insufficient evidence demonstrating their effectiveness in deterring crime.

Like Washington, Laurie Bonner, the vice president of operations at Fieldstone Properties — a company that manages approximately 3,000 units in Prince George’s County — said she opposed the bill.

“This bill’s mandate not only requires significant upfront investment but also an ongoing annual cost that is unrealistic to maintain,” Bonner said.

Bonner added the security camera requirement will cost her company millions of dollars in purchasing, installation and video storing costs.

But council vice chair and District 6 council member Wala Blegay emphasized that the bill is necessary to keep county residents safe.

“The reality is that this is an amenity that most of our residents deserve,” Blegay said.