Business Owners Oppose Madison, Wisconsin Surveillance Ordinance

Published December 4, 2017

The Madison, Wisconsin Public Safety Review Committee will meet in January 2018 to consider a proposed ordinance requiring convenience store owners to purchase and operate surveillance cameras in their stores.

The City Council’s Public Safety Review Committee met on November 8 to consider an ordinance proposed by Mayor Paul Soglin to regulate the location, picture quality, and orientation of surveillance cameras installed in convenience stores within the city’s jurisdiction. The city would fine non-compliant business owners between $200 and $750, depending on the number of prior citations.

After hearing from local small business owners who would be affected by the proposal, the committee voted to postpone voting on the ordinance until their January 2018 meeting.

Reacting to Robberies

Brandon Scholz, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Grocer’s Association, says Soglin’s proposed ordinance is an overreaction.

“This is a reaction by the mayor because there have been incidents in convenience store parking lots,” Scholz said. “I think the better option here is for the police department to work with individual store owners, especially in areas where they think we have problems.”

‘Statewide Opposition’ Possible

Wisconsin business owners will chafe under the new regulations if they spread to other cities, Scholz says.

“If the city does this and, pretty soon, we see other municipalities mandate this equipment, then I think you will see statewide opposition,” Scholz said.

Jeff Lenard, vice president for strategic industry initiatives for the National Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, says a poorly designed storefront can encourage crime in parking lots, but government regulations are not the answer.

“When your store is like a submarine and you can’t see in or out, that is a welcome sign for criminals,” Lenard said. “Well-meaning regulations can backfire.”

Michael Carroll ([email protected])┬áis a writer for An earlier version of this article was published at Reprinted with permission.