Council vote Tuesday night on license plate readers, gunshot detectors

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Champaign could soon join the University of Illinois, Rantoul, Danville, Decatur, and Springfield in using license plate readers to help solve crimes.

It’s expected to be another long, lively discussion as the Champaign City Council on Tuesday night will vote on a two-year, $189,000 deal with Atlanta-based Flock Group, Inc., to install 36 plate readers as well as devices that detect the sounds of gunshots. The plate readers would mostly be north of Springfield Avenue, with an option to add more if the city finds the technology successful. The gunshot detectors would be installed in an area bounded by Mattis Avenue, Bloomington Road, McKinley Avenue, and Bradley Avenue. If approved, the technology could be up and running by March.

These ideas come as Champaign is crafting a broad, multi-million dollar anti-violence plan. The plate readers and gunshot detectors have had their critics, with some residents telling the Champaign City Council last week that they are worried about mis-use of the plate images. To allay some of those concerns, the city is promising an online portal where citizens can see the policies governing the plate readers. The city also noted the plate images would be property of the city, not Flock Group, and the images would be deleted after 30 days if not needed for a police investigation.

The Urbana City Council recently said no to license plate readers after residents raised concerns similar to those in Champaign.

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