All of River Forest will be covered by street cameras after officials approved purchasing and installing cameras in the north section of the village.

Officials voted unanimously at the end of September to authorize the village’s contracted vendor, Griffon Systems, to install 11 Avigilon System street cameras and related hardware and software at six locations in the area bounded by Division Street and North Avenue, and from Thatcher to Harlem avenues.

“The technology is phenomenal and this group is great to work with,” Police Chief Jim O’Shea told trustees while recommending approval.

He said the high-definition cameras will be installed on main streets. They will be motion-activated and operational around the clock. Images will be retained for 90 days.

“Public camera systems are considered a cost-effective way to deter, document and reduce crime,” O’Shea said in a memo to Matt Walsh, village administrator. “In addition, these systems provide enhanced customer service to victims of crimes and help develop crime prevention strategies. 

He noted that the north zone has been exposed to “slight increases” in auto theft and auto and garage burglaries. In addition, residents in this area have expressed concerns about cars speeding, drivers disregarding traffic control devices and reckless driving, he said. 

O’Shea cited increased violent crimes “right on the village’s borders” in Forest Park, Oak Park and Maywood, including homicides, vehicular hijackings, armed robberies and aggravated battery. 

He had noted earlier that the cameras are not speed cameras or red-light cameras and they will not have the capability to provide license plate images.

O’Shea said the program aids other nearby police departments that might be seeking a suspect or suspect’s vehicle if it crossed a boundary from another municipality into River Forest.

He said officials will review the system next year to ensure that it is producing the desired effects and that they will make changes where needed.

In addition to providing officer transparency and officer accountability, he said, the cameras can aid searches for missing people, identify weather conditions and assist with accident investigations.

“The village street camera system has been a very successful force multiplier, crime prevention tool, evidence-gathering application, police accountability device and overall situational awareness tool for the financial, business and educational corridors,” O’Shea said.

The $104,873 cost will be covered by the capital improvement fund. O’Shea noted the cost is lower than the budgeted amount of $107,247.

Street cameras were previously installed along Lake Street between Harlem Avenue and Thatcher, along Central Avenue between Lathrop avenue and Harlem and in the village-owned lot at 400 Thatcher in 2010 and in the area bounded by Madison and Washington streets and Lathrop and Thatcher avenues in 2022.

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