DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Security cameras will soon be placed in one area of the city to attempt to combat the spike in crime and gun violence.
The cameras are going to be installed to monitor the streets of the Johns Hill neighborhood. Officials say this is part of the city that has seen more violence than others. This will be a “test zone” to determine if the cameras are helpful to track crime. If it proves to be useful to police, city leaders will consider expanding the installation of these cameras in other parts of Decatur.
Some who live in the Johns Hill neighborhood say it is no longer peaceful and quiet. One woman said, “We do hear the gunshots all the time. That’s just non-stop. If people know they’re being monitored maybe they won’t commit the crime.”
So far this year, since August, there have been 102 shootings compared to 48 at this time last year.
There have been more shootings so far this year than in the past five years.
The city will be installing between 22-39 security cameras. Deputy City Administrator Jon Kindseth says, “We’ve identified this area as our pilot or test neighborhood. We would first install these security cameras to ultimately try to deter and help to solve the problem that we have with ongoing criminal activity in that area. Some of them will likely have license plate reading technology, so that we can identify who’s coming into the neighborhood.”
Kindseth says it won’t be like “big brother” but rather a helpful tool for police. “These cameras will be targeted towards the public right of way. Obviously we have to protect people’s right to privacy. These aren’t cameras that are going to be used to see what people are doing in their backyards. These are going to be for the criminal activities.”
The plan is to install the cameras at some point in 2021. City leaders have not yet chosen the company to supply the cameras, so they don’t have an exact cost estimate. But this will be paid for by a donation from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
The installation of the security cameras is part of a larger plan for that area. WCIA reported earlier this year about the John’s Hill Revitalization Project. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation donated at total of $8,000,000 to rebuild the streets and create affordable housing.