Evanston’s demand for camera funding nearly doubles

Patrick Svitek, Reporter

City officials confirmed Monday night that they have requested almost double the federal funding to install security cameras along streets leading to Evanston Township High School.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) asked why the final version of the grant application for the cameras called for $395,000, when aldermen approved a plan to seek $200,000 in January. Holmes, whose ward includes ETHS, 1600 Dodge Ave., said residents are increasingly concerned about the discrepancy, pointing to letters to the editor about the issue in two local news outlets.

Citing a March 21 email to council members, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz responded that the dollar amount was changed to “more closely reflect the maximum amount required for the project,” including the cost of storing video captured by the cameras.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl told Holmes she understands grant requests often increase as the recipient works to figure out its exact needs. However, Tisdahl said she supports any effort to provide more information about the proposal.

“I think since we have been completely transparent about everything we’ve done with this grant request, we should continue to be completely transparent,” Tisdahl said.

The council voted 5-3 on Jan. 27 to pursue a $200,000 grant, which comes from federal funding allocated by the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The cameras would be placed along Dodge Avenue and Church Street, which meet at the high school.

Tisdahl has touted the proposal as a way of deterring crime in the ETHS area. The plan’s opponents have questioned whether the cameras — which would not be monitored but could be used by police in subsequent investigations — could lead to safer neighborhoods without infringing on civil liberties.

Bobkiewicz said he shared the final version of the grant application with aldermen in mid-March.