By Bob Uphues
The village of Brookfield has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, which will be used to fund the installation of surveillance cameras at two parks and three other strategic locations within the village.
Brookfield was one of 25 communities to receive grants of up to $10,000 through the caucus' Powering Safe Communities program, which is funded by ComEd.
According to Police Chief James Episcopo, the village is proposing to install 20 cameras in all. The total price tag for the project will be about $20,000, said Episcopo, with the village funding the balance.
All of the cameras will be HD-quality, with the ability to zoom in and out to provide police with another investigative tool. The cost includes not only the cameras but the computer equipment necessary to run them, including a separate server, monitors at the police station and wireless transmitters.
Cameras will be installed at both Kiwanis and Ehlert parks, said Episcopo, in addition to the Memorial Circle at Eight Corners, the Prairie Avenue railroad crossing and the Maple Avenue railroad crossing.
"I've always wanted cameras at the circle," said Episcopo, of the challenging intersection where four streets converge at a roundabout.
In addition to being a block away from S.E. Gross Middle School, where scores of students cross daily during the school year, the circle has seen its share of serious crashes involving impaired drivers, some of whom blow stop signs and plow into the circle itself.
The village received letters of support for cameras at the circle from the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce, First National Bank of Brookfield and Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95, said Episcopo.
"I think those letters helped a lot," he said.
Brookfield police monitor a couple of cameras that were installed a few years ago at the Prairie Avenue train platform. Police have used the motion-activated cameras as an investigative tool, and they were helpful in advancing the investigation of a homicide in January 2016.
"We didn't get a plate [number], but we did see the blue car [allegedly involved in the murder] crossing the tracks," Episcopo said. "That was the first piece of video we got from the homicide. It certainly helped. Had we had more or better cameras, it might have helped the investigation go faster."
Episcopo said he will need to work with the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad on the installation of cameras at the two grade crossings, since they likely will need to be mounted within the railroad right-of-way. The village's cameras at the Prairie Avenue depot are located on railroad property.
"I hope to talk to them, but I don't expect it to be an issue," Episcopo said. "The railroad loves having cameras up."