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1.13.24 – The Commercial Dispatch – Starkville, MS

Mayor Lynn Spruill

STARKVILLE — Mayor Lynn Spruill is proposing an ordinance requiring Starkville businesses and retail centers of a certain size to install security cameras in parking lots, entries and exit areas.

At Friday’s board of aldermen work session, Spruill said the board will consider calling for the first of two required public hearings on the ordinance at Tuesday’s scheduled board meeting. If approved, the first public hearing would be held Feb. 6 and the second Feb. 20. The board would then consider adopting the ordinance.

If passed, it would go in effect 30 days afterward.

Spruill told The Dispatch Friday after the meeting that the idea was hers, born out of a concern for security and a desire to solve or deter crime.

“We have had reports of scammers who are taking advantage of the elderly in parking lots,” she said. “We’ve had instances that made us think that this is one of those things that we should stay ahead of.”

The proposal applies to businesses and retail centers with greater than 25 parking spaces. She said other elements would also be considered, such as if the store is a liquor store or hemp store.

Spruill said the ordinance is based on similar measures passed in Madison and Vicksburg.

As for the potential cost to businesses, Spruill said those could be offset by lower insurance premiums and reduced liability. She said businesses would also benefit by customers feeling more comfortable.

Wait and see

None of the aldermen present at Friday’s work session — including Ward 2 Alderwoman Sandra Sistrunk, Ward 3 Alderman Jeffrey Rupp, Ward 5 Alderman Hamp Beatty and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn — voiced objections to Spruil’s proposal. Both Ward 4 Alderman Mike Brooks and Ward 6 Alderman and Vice Mayor Roy A. Perkins were absent.

Rupp told The Dispatch that the topic of security cameras “is a conversation worth having” and is neither for nor against the idea at this time.

Jeffrey Rupp
Hamp Beatty

“I think it’s a good starting point. It’s a little premature to say I’m all for it or against it,” Rupp said. “I think it makes sense. The technology is cheap. It does help us solve crimes and hopefully stop them before they get bigger. I don’t think having them in parking lots is intrusive.”

Beatty said he is taking a “wait and see approach.” While he is not against it, he also said he does not want the proposal to be a burden to businesses and would like to see what it would cost a business to install security cameras at a scale acceptable to the city.

“I’ve kind of struggled with that, so I can see from a security standpoint why we as a city would like to have (cameras) in the event of an incident or something,” Beatty said. “It will be a financial cost to shopping center owners (and) commercial owners.”

Beatty said he would also like to see how Madison and Vicksburg have fared since passing their respective ordinances.

Kevin Edwards is news editor and reports on Starkville and Oktibbeha County government.