Aldermen voted 5-3 Monday night to seek a $200,000 grant to install surveillance cameras along Dodge Avenue and Church Street leading to Evanston Township High School.

The proposal was developed by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who said it would respond to student concerns about crime by creating a “safe route” to the school.

But Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she didn’t believe there was a need for cameras in the stretch of Dodge Avenue in her ward.

Alderman Ann Rainey.

Rainey ultimately voted for the camera plan, but said she might ask to have it reconsidered at the next City Council meeting.

And Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said too many residents near Dodge in his ward opposed cameras for him to support the proposal, although he said he’d heard no objections to cameras on Church.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said the didn’t believe the cameras would have the intended impact on crime, because they will be unmonitored.

But Tisdahl said the police have a variety of studies showing the effectiveness of cameras.

“Cameras will not solve all porblems, but they will help,” the mayor said.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, backed the camera plan.

She said she has had children at ETHS for seven years and last year saw a melee at Church and Dodge at school dismissal time and spoke to many kids that day who were very frightened.

Alderman Delores Holmes.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she had opposed the expanded safe school zone requested by the school board because it would infringe on the civil liberties of neighbors, but she fully supports the cameras.

Braithwaite and Wilson were joined by Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, in voting against the cameras. Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, wasn’t at the meeting because of weather-related delays in returning from an out-of-town trip.

The vote came after a public comment session dominated by camera opponents.

John Bushnell, of 1805 Crain St., said research shows that security cameras don’t affect crime.

John Bushnell.

Emma Smith, of 1607 Dobson St., said she was worried the cameras would be able to spy into private buildings.

Cecil Cartright, of 1213 Dodge Ave., said crime rates are declining and if kids feel unsafe, education, not more surveillance, is the right solution.

Dickelle Fonda, 1220 Darrow Ave., said she was shocked that a progressive city like Evanstson would turn the security of its children over to cameras.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Forget the Camera issue, its about Wally not doing his job
    How much is this going to Cost the taxpayers, the Mayor see’s a grant – but will that cover the costs?
    As usually Wally is cueless to capital costs of such a project, did he bother to come up with a complete cost for this proposal, given the Mayor could care less about costs, since she is wealthy, and tax increases mean nothing to her.
    Whats another screwed up mess, this ofcourse is small compare to the waste and mismanagement at the water plant, which I keep on bringing up, I want them to discuss why the missing Vortex restricters ( stainless steel ) went missing at the water plant which appears employees could have been involved in, that may be the place we really need cameras installed!

    1. Security Cameras

      If security cameras are necessary in the opinion of the Chief of Police in order to reduce or deter  crime in a given area then we should install them irrespective of whether we receive grant money to do it. Evanston should not however torture the contours of a grant application to improve the chance of success. After all, grant money ain't free…it comes from us, the American taxpayer.

      Stuart Opdycke 1327 Hinman

      1. Opinion of Police to spend money?
        While I think the current police chief is one of the best we have had in the office, our current council and Mayor are some of the worst. They have no concern for taxpayer money. Beyond that this group does not have public discussions they work behind closed doors, we all remember Harley Clarke.

        I discussed this with the chief, he admitted these cameras will not reconize the faces of the people, but they work to tell you what happen, that is if someone said a person shot some one, the camera might pick the event up, but not the actually person doing the act.

        Are the police using our money wisely, a few days before Christmas in the afternoon I was driving down Central Street and they were stopping people for traffic checks, this to me is a huge waste of our tax dollars, its not New years eve, by the way a while back at one of this traffic stops the traffic stop created a accident.

        The police should be questioned like all other city departments, produce all the cost for this, or do not approve it.
        Few remember recently, our council members approved close to one million dollars of our money to fix skokie fire department’s training facility, when I questioned the cost benifits one council members asked the fire chief to explain he said almost nothing – yet these consent agenda council members approved it.

        Stuart I suspect you would have done a better job than Liz if you had been elected Mayor, at least you would have been able to read the city budget!

  2. Does an actual proposal exist?

    There was nothing in the Dec. 9 Council packet that detailed this proposal nor was there anything presented last night. 


    The city's webpage doesn't appear to have the proposal either.

    Why wasn't the actual proposal widely released so people could evaluate it for themselves?

  3. Lack of clear information

    Since there is a lot of misinformation about this proposal i would like to add three additional points: there already are lights and cameras being installed all around ETHS with $60,000 of city tax dollars which will be completed by Spring- many are already in-; the Mayor's proposal for the use of Federal tax dollars extends the corridor of cameras south on Dodge for 1.5 miles into neighborhoods which already offer "safe passage " for our students; the EPD has explained that the cameras they would install will NOT be monitored in real time- only after an incident are they of value when they may retrieve images -although they also do not have facial recognition capacity; and the grant which the city will apply to allows funding for a wide range of programs beyond cameras such as overtime costs for community officers to actually interact and provide a human presence on the street as opposed to turning the safety of our children over to inert and ineffective technology which only offers an illusion of safety.

    1. You said “…although they

      You said "…although they also do not have facial recognition capacity…"


      Does this mean that they don't tie into a system that automatically tries to match the photo to a data base or that the image is not sharp enough to enable direct [automated] or indirect [a technician or mathematician] to match to a data base ?  I doubt [would hope] the police department(s) would not be against this.   Citizens should definitely be for it in trying to reduce the crime rate or at least prompt identification of criminals.  As it is a camera had a picture at less than seven feet of a robbery at a Davis and Sherman/Orrington store several years ago.  We were told it was not an 'identifiable' picture–too grainy. A sketch artist could have used judgement to clarify it even without the mathematician or software I referenced.

      I've asked many times why does Evanston or at least a group of surrounding cities [Skokie, Wilmette and maybe even Chicago] have a resident [or at least on retainer] mathematician and statistician to 1. resolve the sharpness [de-convolution] of pictures the cameras taken [NU has at least one expert in this though not for picture identification], analysis of crime patterns, etc.. So far no one has responded or said they know of such police staffing or consultants. 

      For those who think these uses in the TV program 'Numb3rs' was just fantasy, see the book [EPL has] "Numbers Behind Numb3rs."

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