Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Soglin proposes required cameras in convenience stores to deter criminals

Among criticisms are cost, efficacy of ‘one-size fits all’ solution
Emilie Cochran

In response to a surge in armed robberies and gun fires at Madison convenience stores, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has introduced a proposal requiring convenience stores to have properly placed surveillance cameras in their facilities, and keep the tapes for 30 days.

If armed robbers knew cameras were in the stores, they would be less likely to come in with a gun and rob the store, Soglin said.

“Convenience stores unfortunately are a target for a lot of robberies, particularly armed robberies,” Soglin said. “Having the cameras would help significantly in deterring that kind of crime.”


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The ordinance comes at a much-needed time, public relations officer for the Madison Police Department, Joel DeSpain, said.

“We’ve had a rise in the number of shots being fired in the community,” DeSpain said. “This is a rise in the last few years, and a number of them have been in convenience store parking lots.”

The proposal is currently in a draft form. It would require cameras on the doors, in counter areas – especially around the cash register – and in the parking lot, Soglin said. The proposal will then need to pass through city council before becoming an ordinance.

The ordinance would also require each owner and operator to install their own cameras. But National Association of Convenience Stores vice president of strategic industry initiatives Jeff Lenard said this can be expensive, and fail to accomplish the intended purpose.

“[Cameras] would add costs to stores because you have to buy equipment,” Lenard said. “On top of that, [the proposal] is a one size fits all requirement that may not accomplish what the goals of the program are.”

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Lenard also believes cameras will not stop criminals from robbing a store.

He said cameras are effective in apprehending criminals, but not deterring them.

“Because of this, there might be other ways to go about addressing the problem,” Lenard said.

These alternatives include reducing the amounts of cash on hand and increasing visibility in the stores to reduce robberies, Lenard said.

Reducing the amount of cash usually means having a time release drop safe as well, Lenard said. With that kind of safe, convenience store employees and criminals can’t pull out money any faster.

“Time is the enemy if you’re a criminal,” Lenard said. “They want to get the money and get out fast, and the longer it takes the more likely they are to not be spotted.”

Reduced posters along the windows would help with security as well, as workers would be able to see outside, and police would be able to see inside, Lenard said.

But Soglin believes the cost of cameras would be relatively small, especially when it means keeping the Madison community safe.

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“Our standard is the benefit to the owners and what is it going to cost them, and we think it is a very reasonable expense,” Soglin said.

Soglin also said the ordinance would only affect those currently without cameras. Many stores are already doing this and many companies already have similar policies in place, such as Kwik Trip, which just bought out PDQ stores throughout Wisconsin.

Despain and Soglin agree that the cameras are not that expensive and they could help police solve crimes faster, and more accurately. DeSpain said there were more shots fired this year in Madison than any other year.

No matter what the outcome, Lenard stressed that safety is key, and that nobody wants a robbery in their store.

“Not only don’t you want to be robbed because it’s your property, but it also is your reputation,” Lenard said. “[A robbery would] make it less likely that people will want to come to your store to work or to shop. The question is how do you reduce the likelihood that you are a target of a crime?” 

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