Security camera forum tonight in Bibb

As many as 100 concerned business owners and residents are expected tonight to discuss requiring security cameras in some Bibb County businesses, a proposal launched in the wake of several store-related slayings.

Sam Hart, the Bibb County commission chairman, said he wants people at his 6 p.m. forum to tell him what they want. Such security cameras can deter or help solve crimes, and they helped lead police to arrests in the two Bibb County slayings.

“We’re also in a listening mode, what this community thinks is required, and what would make this a safer community without an undue burden on our businesses,” he said.

Hart said he expected to continue working with the county attorney on a draft ordinance today, before the meeting, but he said the draft would be only a starting point for discussions. He said he didn’t know whether the draft would require security cameras indoors as well as out, or whether they’d be required in businesses with an alcohol license or in all businesses.

The county’s proposal is generally modeled on a decades-old Macon ordinance.

Hart said he thought it made sense to only require cameras at stores with heavy foot traffic, instead of at businesses run out of homes. Hart said the sheriff’s department wants minimum standards for the security cameras to ensure that the video is usable.

The proposal is being pushed by Commissioner Joe Allen, who said he wants to prevent slayings and robberies.

Allen also wants security cameras on busy county streets.

On Sept. 4, Jaymal Patel was killed outside a Mercer University Drive gas station while waiting for his brother to get off work. Security cameras quickly led police to affiliates of the suspect, who was arrested within a day.

Less than a week before that slaying, Dipak “Danny” Patel was killed after he handed money to men robbing the Chevron station at 1257 Riverside Drive in Macon.

Cameras recorded the slaying, and three men were charged.

On July 15, Dilipbhai Patel was killed in a botched robbery at his Lina Food Store in Milledgeville, which had security cameras that did not record a clear image. No arrests have been made in that case.

The 6 p.m. meeting begins at the cafeteria of Carter Elementary School, 5910 Zebulon Road.

Hart said he expected that the meeting would conclude by about 7:15 p.m. It is open to the public.