Responding to the death of Shane Montgomery - who drowned in the Schuylkill after leaving a Manayunk bar on Thanksgiving morning, but whose fate was a mystery for weeks afterward - Philadelphia City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. wants to require every business that serves alcohol to install exterior cameras.
"I don't want this to ever happen to anybody again," said Karen Montgomery, Shane's mother, who suggested the legislation. "I lost Shane for 36 days. And I looked for him for 36 days. Every day. From early in the morning until it got too cold that you couldn't."
Jones said he would introduce the legislation next Thursday.
The bar where the 21-year-old West Chester University student was last seen, Kildare's Irish Pub, did not have working cameras outside. It wasn't until more than two weeks later that police found their first glimpse of him on surveillance footage from a nearby nail salon. That video showed him walking toward a bridge that spans the Manayunk Canal.
His body was not found until more than a month later, on Jan. 3.
Jones said a camera at Kildare's might not have saved Montgomery's life, "but it would have said where the search should begin."
He said the bill would require any business with a liquor license to have at least one outside camera. Businesses could be reimbursed for half the cost of the camera, up to $3,000, under the city's SafeCam Program, a network of private cameras intended to improve safety and help police investigate crime.
Jones' office said that research was still being done and that it was unclear how many bars and restaurants in Philadelphia do not have cameras.
The cost could be a burden, said Melissa Bova of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association. She said she would be interested in working with Jones on the bill but added that she had questions and concerns.
She wondered whether a bar in a high-rise would be required to install cameras at street level, whether every exterior wall would need to be covered by a camera, or whether business owners would be held liable if a camera broke without their knowledge.
"Businesses obviously want to be helpful," Bova said. "But why is it just liquor licenses that are being targeted here?"
Bova said she was not aware of any Pennsylvania municipalities with a similar requirement.
Karen Montgomery said she knows the cost associated with Jones' proposal might meet resistance, but hopes the benefits will persuade Council to pass it. She had been bothered, she said, by the thought that bars don't have cameras since - in the first frantic hours of searching for her son - she learned Kildare's didn't.
"It stuck with me," she said. "It really stuck with me."