City hosts meeting discussing automatic license plate readers

News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “These are a reasonable approach to help identify who’s involved in this gun violence,” Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said.

That’s why the city is looking to install license plate readers to hopefully curb recent violence. The City of Urbana asked for the public’s input. They discussed their plan to install those readers during a Town Hall meeting.

The City of Urbana not only asked for people’s opinions. They also held a Q and A and gave a presentation about the ALPR’s so people have a better understanding of how they work.

“It’s basically another tool that would be available to law enforcement to try and identify who’s involved in the shootings,” Marlin said. “That would bring justice to the families, it would hold people accountable, and again just one investigative tool.”

Automatic license plate readers, or ALPR’s, will be going up in parts of Urbana, placed in neighborhoods that experience more crime. The devices work by detecting motion and snapping a shot of a license plate. The City of Urbana and the NAACP held a town hall meeting asking for the public’s feedback.

“We got to look at long-term problems like poverty and education and lack of jobs and opportunities, all that is important for long-term solutions, but in the short term, we have got to do everything we can, that’s reasonable, to try and interrupt this pattern of violence,” Mayor Marlin said.

For some, they’re concerned the devices could be harmful.

“There is an issue of violence,” Stephanie Posey, with Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, said. “There is an uptick in gun violence. We can’t be so desperate to find a solution that we end up going towards something that causes more harm.”

Posey, with the Urbana Champaign Independent Media Center, says if plates are read wrong, it could impact an innocent family. Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin answered saying he would do more investigating before arresting someone based on their plate number.

“This really grew from requests from City Council members and members of the public, especially those who are living in the neighborhoods most impacted by the shootings,” Mayor Marlin said. “They wanted other tools. They were asking for video cameras and that sort of thing.”

Posey says she wants to see the money used to pay for these to be used for other anti-violence resources.

“We could use that towards programs that and engagements that are already in the community that are doing amazing work,” Posey said.

At the meeting people also brought up privacy and police said they will only be using readers to solve a case.

“Nothing invades your privacy like a bullet in your house,” Mayor Marlin said.

Getting and installing the ALPR’s could cost around $50,000 for 20 units. The City of Urbana is hosting another Town Hall Meeting Friday, October 29 from 1:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m. at the Vineyard Church, 1500 N Lincoln Ave, in Urbana.

Several places in Central Illinois have these cameras or are in the process of adding them. Rantoul and Decatur both have the ALPR’s. Rantoul used them a few months ago to solve a crime. The City of Champaign, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and University of Illinois Police are also looking at installing them.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.