City to vote on surveillance cameras

Chris Kirk

The Evanston City Council is slated to vote Monday on a contract for surveillance cameras in Evanston, particularly in the downtown area.

Public officials, including the chief of police, have recommended the city approve a contract with Current Technologies to design and install surveillance cameras in south, west and downtown Evanston, according to a city memo.

If the Administration and Public Works Committee and the City Council OK the proposal, the company will install nine cameras in downtown Evanston, three in west Evanston and three in south Evanston.

The city has already won two federal grants that would completely cover the cameras and their installation, according to the proposal. The grants would also fund service for three years.

The Evanston Police Department, with the help of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill), applied for grants totalling $341,000 in June 2008.

The cameras are meant to detect and deter crime, according to city documents.

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) acknowledged privacy concerns but said he will likely vote in favor of the cameras because of the potential advantages of addressing crime and because the grants will fund them.

“It would be helpful to have this resource,” he said.

However some, like Evanston resident Antony van Zyl, 45, find surveillance cameras to be intrusive and question their effectiveness in deterring crime.

“These cameras, although ostensibly set up for security today, can, once they’re in place, be used for many other things tomorrow,” Zyl said.

Zyl said he plans to attend the City Council meeting Monday to argue against the proposed contract.

– Chris Kirk