If the Riverside Board of Trustees approves a new village security plan this fall, motorists entering and exiting Riverside may soon be monitored 24 hours a day by video surveillance.
At the regular meeting for the Board of Trustees on Aug. 7, Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel presented the possibility of a closed-circuit television camera system that could be placed at 16 entrance and exit points of the village.
The study included cost estimates of the system and research into a similar system used by the village of Burr Ridge. While Weitzel and Deputy Chief David Krull selected several vendors to collect system estimates from, the only company that provided the police department information without having a solid contract was Fidei Group, a technology company based in south suburban Monee.
“I was looking for research for the project so I could brief my board on whether they wanted to go through with it or not,” Weitzel said before presenting the research to the public.
Weitzel said Burr Ridge has found success with their surveillance camera system set up through Fidei Group. One big distinction, he noted, was while cameras in Burr Ridge are low-rise and mostly located at gated subdivisions on distinct grass medians, cameras in Riverside would be placed near main street entries on poles up to 10 feet high. While the system would be set up differently in Riverside, Weitzel expects to see the same security goals achieved as in Burr Ridge.
“What almost everybody uses these types of cameras for is post-event investigations,” he said. “There is no real clear data that anybody can find, including the companies, that it prevents crime from taking place, but it certainly helps investigators once the crime has happened.”
The video surveillance system would consist of the individual cameras that would feed video back to a special computer system at the police station. Each surveillance pole would consist of three cameras — one for an overview shot of the street, a second for license plate recognition and a third camera for facial recognition.
“They need to be high enough for sightline, to get a full shot of the car and [they’re] also wireless,” Weitzel said. “This is a high-end system. It’s not like those grainy videos you may see them play on the news.”
Weitzel said that the camera capturing the license plates would not run every single plate passing through with the Secretary of State database, but would only be kept on video file for investigation should a crime occur. The facial recognition camera has the capacity to capture both the faces of the driver and any front seat passengers. Weitzel said the cameras could also determine instances of stolen vehicles.
Since video stored would be kept for a minimum of 90 days, the police station would need a new computer system to store hundreds of hours’ worth of video data.
The cost of the project would roughly be around $180,000 and would include the installation of poles and cameras and a one-time video management and storage system fee.
Trustee Doug Pollock, who works as a planner for the village of Burr Ridge, advocated installing the cameras.
“It’s been a fantastic tool for crime investigation,” Pollock said of his experience in Burr Ridge, “and it’s led to quite a few solved burglaries and hit and runs and things like this, so I strongly support the idea of doing this whether we implement it all in one year or if we phase it in.”
Trustee Ellen Hamilton asked about the possibility of vandalism, with Weitzel stating there have been instances of cameras being vandalized or struck by motorists.
“People have spray painted them. There’s a lens cover that you can pop off and then put a lens cover over it. [And] depending on how close it is to the roadway, they’ve had auto accidents that have taken down those poles too.”
Village President Ben Sells directed Village Manager Peter Scalera to put the camera system up as a line item for discussion in the 2015 Capital Improvement Plan, which will be approved as part of the 2015 village budget in the fall.