College Station ordinance is using technology to help solve crimes

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COLLEGE STATION - Gas stations, convenience stores and liquor stores less than 10-thousand square feet are now required to have multiple surveillance cameras.

The ordinance is inspired after a tragedy happened over a year ago at Drew’s Exxon at College Station, where a worker was kidnapped and later died.

During the hours after the incident, surveillance camera footage played a critical role in the investigation.

"It's extremely unfortunate what happened to one of our employees, if anything came out good out of this, it's this ordinance,” said Mark Conlee, General Manager of Drew’s Exxon.

Drew's Exxon’s 36 high-resolution camera's located inside and outside the convenience store completes just one requirement the store met to comply with College Station's new ordinance on security for convenience stores and liquor stores.

“We became compliant before the ordinance even passed," said Conlee. Sgt. Sean Beatty with the College Station Police Department is working to get other stores up to code, knowing higher surveillance footage can be critical.

“Good video is always an aid to an investigation,” said Sgt. Beatty.

Surveillance cameras must meet the city's equipment policy. They have to record in color, high-resolution, display the correct date and time, and be able to record clear images in dark or low lighting. Police must also be able to retrieve the footage.

“Some high-resolution cameras will be able to make out license plates, some will not be able to make out license plates, but they will be able to make out color, make, model - all that kind of stuff," said Sgt. Beatty.

From the video, police can get a clear description of a suspect or victim. Richard Terry finds comfort in upgraded security.

“I prefer that better than some other store that don’t have the cameras,” said Terry

The ordinance requires convenience stores and liquor stores to have a limited amount of cash at the register, a working alarm system, and height stickers on the door so they can determine the height of suspects.

“We are really pleased that the city of College Station is taking these steps to protect employees and convenience stores," said Conlee.

Police are stopping by the 40 locations that will have to comply with the ordinance. After an initial assessment, police will work with stores to comply with guidelines in a reasonable amount of time.

The registration, inspection, and application needed to comply is free. Stores do have to spend money on equipment if their present equipment does not meet the requirements.