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Aldermen OK surveillance cameras

Evanston aldermen Monday voted 7-2 to accept over $340,000 in grants from the federal government to install surveillance cameras downtown and in two other city neighborhoods.

A cart-full of cameras displayed outside the City Council Chamber.

Evanston aldermen Monday voted 7-2 to accept over $340,000 in grants from the federal government to install surveillance cameras downtown and in two other city neighborhoods.

A cart-full of cameras displayed outside the City Council Chamber.

Objections came from Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, who said she worried that the cameras would give visitors the impression that downtown was not safe, and from Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, who said the cameras are an invasion of privacy and no substitute for community efforts to work with young people to turn them away from criminal activity.

But Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said he doesn’t believe cameras would make people think the city is unsafe.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said she was in London a few weeks ago, which has one of the most comprehensive camera systems in the world. She said she never even noticed them and never felt as if she was being watched.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said she believes the cameras will help catch criminals and that crime victims would want the city to have every tool available to do that.

"Cameras aren’t a replacement for block watches or having parents be responsible," Burrus said, "They’ll just provide good data when something bad happens."

Police Chief Richard Eddington said that the proposed camera locations could be changed and that once the infrastructure was in place to link the cameras through the city’s fiber optic and wireless data network they could be located almost anywhere in town.

The current plan calls for nine cameras downtown, three on or near Howard Street in south Evanston, and three on or near Dodge Avenue in west Evanston.

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