Elmhurst police department requests more license plate readers

The cameras would monitor two intersections on York Street

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(City of Elmhurst video)

ELMHURST – Roughly a year after the Elmhurst City Council approved the installation of five license plate readers, the Police Department is requesting four more cameras.

The Public Affairs and Safety Committee met June 26 to review the request to install two cameras at York Street and Butterfield Road and two more at York Street and Brush Hill Road at a cost of $48,530.25 from Brite Computers, the same contractor that installed the first cameras. The cost includes software, installation, end user training, and a five-year warranty.

The existing five cameras were approved last year by the City Council on June 20 and are located at the intersections of St. Charles Road and Fair Avenue, North and Clinton avenues, and York and Lake streets. They cost the city $53,250.

According to the report draft submitted to the committee, the cameras have aided criminal investigations of burglary, motor vehicle theft, retail theft, aggravated battery and robbery. The Police Department wants to expand its automatic license plate reader system to “enhance its ability to solve and deter serious criminal activity.”

Before the cameras were approved by the city in 2016, the Police Department conducted a 65-day trial in the fall of 2014. During that time, according to a memo from Chief Mark Ruth to City Manager James Grabowski, the cameras helped six criminal investigations, including one from the Villa Park Police Department, two residential burglaries, two burglaries to motor vehicles and one retail theft.

A licensed plate camera is fixed to a pole, traffic signal, bridge or some other place where it can capture license plate numbers as cars drive by. The police and other law enforcement agencies can then access the database to find out if and when a vehicle crossed a particular intersection. The information has a variety of uses, but it comes down to enhanced visibility. With the license plate readers, police can see who comes in and out of town.

Although the license plate readers can help lead to people of interest to the police, the cameras can only trace plates, which are associated to vehicles, not people. Law enforcement has to take the information one step further through an investigation to identify any person.

The first round of cameras were installed in the north part of town, but the second set is planned for the southern part of town.