Video cams make workplaces safe

The old saying “better safe than sorry” comes to mind when talk focuses on the gas station in Norton Shores where Jessica Heeringa was working when she disappeared.
May 16, 2013


Several preventative steps could have been taken to make the station in question safer for employees, and in the aftermath of Heeringa’s abduction — she’s still missing — lawmakers are considering steps that would require 24-hour convenience stores to make some changes.

We may never know if having on-site surveillance cameras would have prevented Heeringa’s abduction, but it surely would have helped law enforcement personnel in their ongoing investigation.

Prior to that fateful night in late April when Heeringa disappeared, police had twice suggested to the Exxon gas station’s owner to install surveillance cameras in order to capture potential crimes such as driving off without paying for gas, or worse, on video.

Cameras are now in place. Signs at the station indicate the owner installed them the day after Heeringa’s disappearance.

The National Association of Convenience Stores and Occupational Safety and Health Administration both recommend surveillance cameras as part of crime-prevention plans, but business owners in Michigan are under no obligation to install them.

That could soon change.

Some Michigan lawmakers are considering whether cameras or other security measures should be required at certain businesses following the disappearance of the 25-year-old mother. Some are calling for a law making it mandatory for convenience stores to have two clerks on duty at night.

These measures won’t come cheap. Paying for another employee to be on the job overnight would cost considerable money. Installing surveillance cameras can range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Norton Shores Police Chief Daniel Shaw said surveillance cameras at the Exxon station "would really have helped us right from the start, given us some focus," rather than seeking video footage from nearby businesses.

We agree, and urge those who own such businesses to take the necessary steps to make their stores and stations safer places for their customers and employees.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


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