Riverside’s police chief will accelerate a plan to bring surveillance cameras to village entry points after President Ben Sells and trustees encouraged him to install them as soon as possible.

“You know where the locations are that are most likely to help you,” Sells told Weitzel at the village board’s meeting on Feb. 21. “I would say those are the locations you should concentrate on instead of using an alternate location just because it happens to be less money.”

Sells was referring to the two-phase plan Weitzel rolled out to the village board earlier in the month. At that time, Weitzel said the first phase of the plan to bring surveillance cameras to key points of Riverside would concentrate on the downtown area and the intersection of Woodside Road/Kimbark Road/Park Place.

The second phase, which included entry points along Harlem Avenue would come later in 2019. In early February, the village board voted unanimously to approve spending $130,000 for the installation of surveillance cameras this year. The first phase of the project was estimated to cost about $65,000.

Sells and trustees indicated they felt the major entry point cameras were a priority, since those locations were areas where vehicles involved in criminal activity enter and exit the village.

“It seems like if we do something in the interior and then have to come back and do those [entry point] spots anyway, it seems like we’re doing things backwards,” Sells said. “We should cover the hot spots first.”

In response to that direction, Weitzel told the Landmark that he still plans to move ahead with the cameras downtown at the train station, but that he will now try to include several entry-point cameras into the first phase of the project.

“I’m letting the vendor know that the board is very much interested in getting cameras at the entrances moved up,’ Weitzel said. “I want to expand the first phase to include that.”

A consultant from Griffon Systems, which the village has chosen as its vendor for the camera project, will meet with Weitzel next week to pinpoint locations along Harlem Avenue for inclusion.

Other locations for proposed cameras include First Avenue and Ridgewood Road, where Weitzel said he’s approached Riverside-Brookfield High School about installing a camera; 31st Street and Desplaines Avenue; and the north side of the Barrypoint Road bridge.

Locations along Harlem Avenue that could be in play are at 26th Street, Longcommon Road and Ogden Avenue.

While the Harlem Avenue intersections at East Burlington Street and Quincy Street are also obvious locations, Weitzel said those areas are tricky unless the village can partner with a private property owner and can position the cameras high enough to successfully send a signal to transmitters that he’s proposing to mount on the communications antenna at the Riverside Township Hall.

Those transmitters could capture signals coming from Harlem Avenue and Barrypoint Road, Weitzel said. The Riverside School District 96 Board of Education, meanwhile, approved allowing the village to place a transmitter atop the smokestack at Central School to capture signals coming from the west and north.

The Riverside School District 96 Board of Education voted 3-2 with two abstentions to allow the transmitter to be placed on the smokestack. Voting in favor were Lynda Murphy, Rich Regan and Dan Hunt. Voting against were David Barsotti and school board President Jeff Miller. Shari Klyber and Joel Marhoul abstained. 

Along Harlem Avenue in particular, the village faces hurdles in accessing electricity for the cameras. The street lights are in the right of way controlled by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad won’t allow the village to tap into circuits that control the Harlem Avenue crossing gates, Weitzel said.

By the end of the summer, Weitzel will also prepare a long-range plan for surveillance camera installation in future years. That document will help the village board budget for additional cameras in 2020 and beyond.