There’s already more than 450 police surveillance cameras in Baltimore. Now the city is requiring one in a bar called Shirley’s Honey Hole, says Baltimore Sun crime reporter Peter Hermann. City lawyers and cops crafted a plea deal for the bar owner to avoid getting padlocked under the city’s newly enforced nuisance law: close for October, hire a security guard and install a camera that gives city cops a live video feed. Plenty of businesses have surveillance cameras, but this one is inside, hooked up to the government.
Hermann notes that it is perfectly legal because the owner consented. But a key question, I think, is how much consent did the owner Shirley Barner really give if she accepted the terms as part of a plea deal to save her business? And what’s stopping the city from making cameras-linked-to cops a part of other plea deals with other problem bars? And why stop there. Make it a condition for a liquor license, or zoning improvements, or just about anything else? A lawyer is challenging the constitutionality of the padlock law in Maryland’s second highest court, the Court of Special Appeals.