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Surveillance Camera Proposal For Dodge and Church Moves Forward

City council members voted to go forward with a grant application to install security cameras along the lengths of Dodge Avenue and Church Street.

Despite opposition from some community members, Evanston aldermen voted 5-3 Monday to go forward with a grant application to install security cameras along Dodge Avenue and Church Street. 

Tisdahl initially recommended that the city apply for the grant in December, not long after a resolution to create a “safe school zone” and extend policing powers around Evanston Township High School failed to pass city council. Citing a recent statewide survey on learning conditions that showed only 58 percent of ETHS students say they feel safe “outside around the school,” Tisdahl has said that the proposal is designed to provide an alternative measure to enhance safety for children walking to and from the high school.  

“There’s a young woman who is afraid to go to and from school because of the number of times she’s been shown a gun,” Tisdahl said at Monday night’s meeting. “She lives two blocks from the school, and her mother drives her to and from school. I think we owe our children a better life than that.” 

Under the mayor’s proposal, police would add surveillance cameras along the entire 2.5-mile stretch of Dodge Avenue from Simpson to Howard streets, and along a 1.2-mile stretch of Church Street from city limits at McCormick Boulevard to Ridge Avenue. Cameras would stop at Ridge because there are so many private security cameras downtown that adding more would be unnecessary, according to Tisdahl.

In addition to the new cameras proposed, police already operate numerous surveillance cameras throughout the city, including a handful near the high school, according to Police Chief Richard Eddington.

In order to install the cameras, the city will apply for $200,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. The grant application is due in February, according to city manager Wally Bobkiewicz. 

Several Evanston residents spoke up about the proposal at Monday night’s city council meeting, and more than 100 people have signed petitions opposing the surveillance cameras. 

Evanston resident Bobby Burns, who is collecting signatures online and in person in the neighborhood around the high school, told Patch he believes the city council does not have enough research to back up the surveillance camera proposal. 

“Has Evanston crime physically impacted students?” Burns wrote in an e-mail to Patch earlier in January. “How many harassments, assaults, or robberies have been reported where an E.T.H.S student was the victim (while traveling between home and school)? Until we have this data, the cameras are solving a need that hasn’t been proven to exist yet.” 

In a public presentation in December, Police Chief Eddington, however, cited a study by the Urban Institute, among others, that showed that installation of surveillance cameras in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., was a cost-effective way to reduce crime, including violent crime.  

Aldermen Judy Fiske (1st Ward), Peter Braithwaite (2nd Ward) and Don Wilson (4th Ward) all voted against the grant to install security cameras.

“I’m not comfortable because I feel like this particular solution goes beyond the range of the problem,” Wilson said. “I think we need to try to be more focused on results-oriented tools and solutions.”

IgnorantA January 30, 2014 at 10:10 AM
Its interesting reading some of these comments, some believe the cameras might be able to peer in to windows others believe they will never be able to identify who is doing what. For those fearing the camera might peer into windows, in my mind it would be no different than a pedestrian walking a dog past your house and looking inside, if you don’t want to be seen, close the blinds… While the camera’s at this time MIGHT not be able to provide perfect facial recognition that can be used to effectively convict / identify parties involved it still can be used to aid law enforcement on what exactly happened i/e number of people involved, automobile identifications, colors of clothing / skin, etc… However, there is a lot more to a system like this than just a bunch of cameras playing big brother to certain areas of the community. Just as important as the camera’s themselves, is the underlying network infrastructure that would be deployed as part of this project. Installing the network infrastructure is most likely the most expensive component of this entire project. As camera technology continues to improve, with the network infrastructure in place, inferior cameras can easily be swapped out when newer, more capable cameras with better facial recognition abilities become available. The point of this being, with the network infrastructure in place, there are more things that can piggy back on to the network that can be used to benefit the community. Imagine on the same light poles that have cameras mounted that there are also Wifi access points deployed with the city being able to provide free public wifi access to these same neighborhoods? Impossible, actually it is very easy, through the use of VLANS or different wifi bands it is very simple to create a public AND a private network traversing on the same network. Currently, with the Toughbook laptops deployed in squad cars, when an officer needs to submit a report, they have to “come back to the shop” to submit their report into the CAD records system, imagine with this network installed, officers being able to be parked near ETHS doing their “paperwork” remotely, while at the same time providing a police presence to the students and residents? All of this is possible with the network infrastructure in place. So I am directing this next question directly to you, Bobby Burns, when you were out gathering your signatures, did you happen to mention any of the positives that could be obtained with such a project? Do you think if I was to walk door to door and ask all of the residents if they would be against to potential of having free wifi internet access they would not sign my petition as well? So yes, Bobby, as you conduct your research and gather facts, gather all of the facts not just the facts that suit your narrow minded objective….
Jordan S. Zoot January 30, 2014 at 10:19 AM
I just had an idea..how about installing a GPS chip into the skull of every convicted violent felon that would permit the police to track them 24x7 with a device that could be handheld or placed in a police car....imagine how much easier it would make the process of looking for trouble makers or wanted fugitives. Once the chips were installed they couldn't be removed without performing brain surgery. Further...it the technology is available why not add facial recognition to the cameras it would speed up the process of identifying the problems.
Lavender Lady January 31, 2014 at 10:49 AM
Cameras in the capacity stated would be okay. I see we have our homegrown idiot, Mr Zoot on this thread. You, Mr Zoot are a strange bird. First of all, this not a Nazi Germany, this not an area controlled by neanderthals , so if you have issues such as the least of us shopping at Whole foods, cameras at Church and Dodge, why don't you move because you don't have the right mentality to be a citizen of Evanston or the North Shore. "Don't let the door hit you on the way out". You are sleaze.
Jordan S. Zoot January 31, 2014 at 10:59 AM
Ms. Dixon.....no one puts you in the position to decide who can live anywhere...thank you for being an ignorant bimbo. FYI.....Patch provides a wonderful outlet when I get bored it provides an opportunity to am up the libritards that inhabit parts of the community.
Lavender Lady January 31, 2014 at 11:24 AM
@zoot, ha ha ha, thanks for the honor,. When a racist labels me a bimbo, it is a badge of honor. Never would I suggest you move, but you seem sooo frustrated with this area where the majority, thank God aren't in agreement with you. I have work to do, maybe you should find a hobby. It certainly would help.

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