April 8, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Detroit council requires self-service gas stations to step up security surveillance

The Clark gas station near where Steve Utash was attacked did have security cameras, but they were poorly placed, said Detroit City Council member Andre Spivey. )

Detroit — The City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to strengthen licensing requirements for self-service gas stations in the city and requires strategically placed indoor and outdoor digital surveillance cameras in the wake of a brutal beating on the city’s east side last week.

The council has been evaluating changes to its licensing requirements in recent years and the approval follows multiple attacks, including that of 54-year-old Steven Utash of Clinton Township.

Utash accidentally struck a 10-year-old boy Wednesday while driving on Morang Drive near McKinney, authorities said. When he stopped to check on the boy, he was violently assaulted by about dozen people in the area.

Councilman Andre Spivey said the Clark gas station near where Utash was attacked did have security cameras, but they were poorly placed.

“Had they been placed differently, we could have seen the faces of the young men and we could have seen that the three young men were actually playing a game of chicken, jumping out into traffic and back in,” Spivey said after the council meeting. “When one jumped out he got hit by Mr. Utash while he was going down the street. That’s what happened to the young man.”

Four suspects, two minors and two adults, have since been arrested. Utash remained in a critical condition in a medically-induced coma.

Spivey said the city’s Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department will notify gas stations and the Detroit Police Department will work to ensure compliance is met by Aug. 31.

The videos must be accessible by city officials and provided to law enforcement within one hour of being notified by police of an investigation, the ordinance says. Failure to do so, could result in a search warrant request to seize the video.

If stations do not comply, they will be denied a license renewal and incur fines.

The ordinance also notes that in addition to the video requirement, if a licensed self-service station has had three or more separate documented criminal incidents in the previous licensing year, they shall be required to provide additional public security measures, including mobile security patrols, as recommended and approved by the police department prior to gaining business license renewal.

Spivey noted the amended ordinance adds an extra component to the existing licensing rules for the city.

Spivey and Police Chief James Craig are expected to hold a news conference on Wednesday to detail the new regulations.

Spivey said there have been hit-and-runs in the area before, “but it still doesn’t justify him being attacked.”

On Friday, Spivey said he talked with Utash’s daughters by phone, saying they were “very compassionate.”

“They spoke no ill will to the gentleman who attacked their father,” he said.