Mesa convenience store owners reacting to city council camera mandate

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MESA, Ariz. - Mesa convenience store owners are reacting about a possible mandate from the City of Mesa.

The city is talking about requiring surveillance cameras in all stores, but the cameras aren't cheap.

The city council wants increased security at all of the convenience stores in Mesa to make it less convenient for criminals to make off with beer, cigarettes and other items.

On opening day, six months ago Mustaf Wishaiwi said two men walked into the Mesa convenience store where he worked and robbed him at gunpoint.

“They take the money almost $600, $700, they take the cigarette,” he said.

Two days after that, Wishaiwi said the owners installed cameras and bullet proof glass.

“The ordinance that we're looking at would require stores to take security measures in about a dozen different areas,” Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh said.
   
For the last year, Mesa City Council has been working on an ordinance to try and prevent convenience store crimes by requiring owners to install measures like surveillance cameras, height markers, panic alarms and drop safes.

Kavanaugh said last year, of the 319,000 calls for service, 9,000 of those were from convenience stores.

And now the city also has to worry about budget cuts.

“For the last several years we've been in budget reduction modes in Mesa, our police department has had 12 percent reductions over the last year in terms of operation,” Kavanaugh said.

Wishaiwi said he supports the ordinance, although other shop owners have come out against it, saying the upgrades would be too expensive.

Kavanaugh said he hopes the measure will save money and maybe lives.

“It's not an intent to put them out of business but to help make their business safe,” he said.

Kavanaugh said right now the city attorney is drafting the ordinance. It'll then have to go through two hearings, including one in which the public can give their opinions.

Then the council hopes to make a vote by early September.