Mesa could be a step closer to establishing new safety and security requirements for high-traffic retail businesses in an effort to deter crimes.
At its June 22 meeting, the Mesa Public Safety Committee unanimously agreed to send the proposed changes to the full City Council. The proposed ordinance would place the requirements on businesses such as convenient stores, bars, video arcades and even large-scale stores.
Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh, chairman of the committee, said the proposed plan should be heard by the City Council at a study session before the end of August. The effort is part of an ongoing program that employs environmental design to deter crime.
Among the rules that could be adopted are having at least two employees scheduled to work in the business at one time; maintaining a working closed-circuit video system; and installing panic alarms in the event of a robbery, Kavanaugh said.
Other rules includes things as simple as keeping dumpsters in a spot that provides full visibility around them.
"This is an approach to make it impossible or difficult for crimes to occur," Kavanaugh said. "A lot of businesses that are paying money out on the back end by losing money to thefts can pay to have things put in place to help prevent those thefts. If you're going to have a use - we're saying you can't operate the use without a security plan."
The proposed ordinance for Mesa is modeled after Tempe's security plan ordinance for retail businesses, which has been in place for about a decade, Kavanaugh said.
Pending which provisions are ultimately approved in the security plan ordinance, businesses would submit paperwork to officials in the police department to document that they completed the city's requirements and are in compliance with the law.
If a business owner believes he is following the requirements in the ordinance but is being told he is not in compliance, there will be an appeal process with the city manager, according to Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh said the push for such requirements stems from one of the goals set out for 2009 by police Chief George Gascón. Gascón is leaving Mesa later this month to take over as the chief of the San Francisco Police Department
"We have had some crime prevention measures here and there throughout our zoning code, but we wanted to upgrade them," Kavanaugh said. "Council will be looking at various proposals in the plan during the next six months."
In addition to Kavanaugh, committee members include Council members Scott Somers of District 6 and Dina Higgins of District 5, who also agreed to forward the plan to the full council.