The City of Highland Park is the latest north suburban community to get in on the latest law enforcement tech trend.
Highland Park’s City Council voted 6-1 on Feb. 13 to approve a no-bid contract with Flock Safety to install 22 license-plate-reading cameras in the community. Councilmember Michelle Holleman was in dissent.
City Manager Ghida Neukirch said staff recommended a no-bid approval, because Flock Safety offered a low cost and is already in use by 13 neighboring municipalities. Flock’s cameras are already active in Glencoe, Kenilworth, Skokie and Northbrook and are awaiting installment in Northfield, Wilmette and Winnetka.
The cameras snap a photo of every car that passes and collects the time, date and license-plate number. The data is then compared to local and national law-enforcement databases and will return alerts for everything from missing persons to stolen vehicles to wanted individuals.
Data collected from the readers is deleted within 30 days if it does not trigger an alert from the databases. The contract, which can be found as part of the meeting packet (Page 184), limits Flock Safety’s access to information collected by the cameras.
Police Chief Lou Jogmen said Highland Park Police Department is most concerned with addressing the increase in stolen vehicles and thefts to vehicles.
“We’re looking for any advantage at all right now to put us in a position to be more successful to deter and prevent and ultimately identify and apprehend the folks that are coming out and (committing the crimes),” Jogmen said. “This is the only thing we can see that can put us in a better position than we are in. We are not in a good position.”
Holleman expressed concerns over the data collection and the benefit to Highland Park residents, since the cameras would not necessarily catch cars stolen from Highland Park.
Jogmen said while that is true, many offenders who commit car crimes in the community use stolen vehicles, which would trip an alert from the cameras.
The new technology will cost Highland Park about $65,000 in 2023, which includes the annual cost of $57,500 and the on-time installation and set-up cost of $7,500.
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