Booze and crime, happy together

Alcohol vendors must install surveillance cameras

Any establishment in Union City with a liquor license has to install indoor and outdoor surveillance.
Any establishment in Union City with a liquor license has to install indoor and outdoor surveillance.

Union City has a new plan to combat booze-induced crime, which dozens of liquor license holders will have to budget for.

Public drinking and drunkenness, loitering, fights, and drug activity are all occasional topics of discussion in the city’s hearings for liquor license applications and violations.

Residents have historically equated living near bars with higher frequencies of crime as a major quality-of-life issue during Board of Commissioners meetings.

To help deter and solve crime, liquor license holders are now required to install security cameras at their own cost to monitor their bars, restaurants and liquor stores.

While local policy mandating surveillance systems in bars is certainly not a common practice, police officials say that most bars in Union City already have surveillance cameras.

What these surveillance cameras record can be used by police during investigations, following incidents that takes place on or near establishments with liquor licenses.

The resolution, which was introduced on April 16, was unanimously approved at an April 30 meeting.

“I’d like to thank the police department for their diligent work in protecting the community, and cleaning up the quality of life,” Union City Mayor Brian Stack said after the measure passed. “This is just one more step we’re taking to ensure quality of life and safety in the community.”

Stack said that most businesses in the city already have surveillance systems inside and outside of their establishments, which likely comply with the new regulation. Some surveillance systems, however, will need upgrades to meet the police department’s requirement, depending on the quality of video and range of coverage their current systems provide.

The ordinance requires a 24/7 camera feed on the exterior of a restaurant. Interior surveillance is required during operating hours.

Businesses have 120 days to comply with the new ordinance. Those who don’t comply will face violation fees until they meet the requirement.

Protecting infrastructure

The Board of Commissioners also unanimously passed new requirements for building owners who need to remove sidewalks for construction purposes.

This resolution came in the wake of a $9 million street improvement project on Palisade Avenue funded by New Jersey’s Department of Transportation.

Anyone in Union City who wishes to make sidewalk repairs will now face stringent deposit and permit requirements. This is to ensure that they’ll fully cover replacing sidewalks that are removed with the new finish that’s currently being used throughout the city.

“We’ll be spending up to $9 million on streetscaping, on new sidewalks, tree planting, and decorative lighting,” Stack said. “It’ll be a major improvement to the city. We just want to make sure that when we’re putting a sidewalk in, that if someone has to do work on their house that it’s properly repaired, put back in place, and that the appropriate fee is paid to the city, so that we can go back and restore the sidewalk.”

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