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Richmond Heights City Council has passed new legislation that will require all retail businesses within the city limits to post cameras recording the faces of everyone entering or exiting their premises as well as the area immediately outside their businesses.

According to the wording of the legislation, police will be required to view the footage if a crime is suspected of happening.

“If a crime occurs, or if an employee believes a crime has occurred, the business shall contact the City’s Division of Police immediately, and the business shall provide immediate access to the media containing the recorded event to the Division of Police,” according to the ordinance.

The ordinance continues that video surveillance systems are required to see the faces of people entering and exiting “at a minimum a camera at each entrance and exit positioned to capture faces of people entering and exiting the immediate area outside the premises.”

Richmond Heights made cameras mandatory at all apartment buildings in 2022, after a request from then Police Chief Tom Wetzel.

Current Chief Calvin Williams said when asked if a business was required to turn over any footage, that they would be. He said if a business refuses to turn over footage that the police will seek a warrant for that footage. He views the new ordinance not as increased police surveillance but as a way to shift businesses in line to what apartment buildings are already required to have by the city.

“Apartment buildings already have a requirement,” Williams said. “So, this makes it more equal for all the places that we have had complaints.”

“This brings our business community — our stores, our banks, our bars, restaurants and things like that — are in compliance with the current city ordinance.” Williams told City Council.

According to city documents, businesses will have six months to comply with the new ordinance. Any business found to be in violation of the ordinance will be fined up to $500 per citation with a new citation being possible every day the cameras are not present past the six-month period.

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