Cameras another tool for police department
By: DANIEL WINNINGHAM
Enquirer~Democrat managing editor
Earlier this year, the use of license plate recognition cameras was approved at the committee level by the city of Carlinville.
The city has installed two license plate reader cameras, one of which is active.
At this time, there are two locations south of the city that have cameras that can recognize vehicle license plates – Shipman Blacktop on the east sisde of the roadway by the Carlinville sign (just south of what will be the new MJM headquarters) and the other is on Route 4 near the entrance to New Calvary Cemetery on the east side of the roadway, according to Carlinville Police Chief Dave Haley.
The camera on the Shipman Blacktop is not operational yet and Haley does not know the time frame of when it will be turned on.
“By employing license plate recognition systems in our city, we have added an extra set of eyes to help our officers be more efficient and effective at deterring and fighting crime,” Haley said. “Capturing data from license plates allow our officers to act quickly when the system hits on stolen cars or wanted persons which will help in keeping our citizens safe. Our (license plate recognition) system is a powerful investigative tool for catching criminals.”
In addition, AMBER and Silver Alerts go out through the city’s camera system, alerting officers to urgent cases of missing persons.
“The license plate recognition program allows for greater law enforcement collaboration by connecting participating agencies and sharing of information in real time for the benefit of public and officer safety by speeding up the time to solve crimes,” Haley said.
The cameras were recommended by Public Safety and approved by Finance committee, Haley said.
Each license plate recognition camera cost $7,091.85, according to Haley.
Haley does not know if other municipalities in Macoupin County are using the license plate recognition technology.
“I am not aware of any other communities in Macoupin County using these cameras,” Haley said. “There are other communities in surrounding counties using them
Installation costs range between $1,800 and $2,300 at each location depending on the installation type.
The electric consumption is minimal however we will pay the minimum monthly cost of $5 at these two locations, according to Haley. Other costs such as software and maintenance are covered through the Drug Enforcement Agency, Haley said.
Cameras in other places
In addition to the license plate recognition cameras, the city also has installed cameras on the square for added security. These are not license plate recognition style cameras.
“Everyone has their own interpretation of what goes on at the square,” Carlinville Mayor Deanna Demuzio said.
The cameras were added to the interior of the gazebo earlier this year.
“There had been an attempt to install a couple years ago,” Demuzio said. “We had an opportunity to revisit and got a better price on it.”
The city had looked into getting them placed at the square before but a final plan hadn’t been approved. Demuzio said the location of the cameras are placed “where it will best help” the police department.
Demuzio pointed out the Amtrak train station also has cameras. They were required as part of the building process, she said.
“Unfortunately, that’s what our world has come to,” Demuzio said. “It’s like Big Brother watching. Is there a drone above you watching everything you do? That’s how the world is today. Even though we don’t like it in some cases.”