CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Gunshot detection technology would be deployed on Champaign’s north end as part of a plan that also includes license plate readers. The issue is up for a city council vote next Tuesday, and another passionate debate is expected as the city considers broad anti-violence measures.
A police report prepared for the council proposes a two-year, $189,000 deal with Atlanta-based Flock Group, Inc. The plan calls for sensors that hear gunshots, then alert first responders, to be installed in a 1.3 square mile area. The area is bordered by Mattis Avenue, Bloomington Road, McKinley Avenue, and Bradley Avenue. That’s an area that’s seen a high level of shootings, according to police.
Flock Group is proposing to give the city the gunshot technology for free for one year as part of the deal that also includes the license plate readers. The city could then continue with the technology at a cost. Hundreds of cities across the U.S. use this type of technology, but it has faced criticism, including in Chicago, for producing false alarms.
The license plate readers would be installed at 36 locations in Champaign. Police could manually search for a plate or get a readout of plates that have passed by the sensors.
Critics of the license plate readers have voiced concerns to the Champaign City Council about citizens’ information being used for personal gain. The city is proposing an online portal where residents could see policies about the technology, but not the images themselves. Those images would be property of the city, and they would be purged after 30 days if not used for a police matter.
The report for council also identifies more locations where the readers could be installed if officials find the technology to be beneficial:
• Staley Road, north of Kirby Avenue
• Staley Road, south of Springfield Avenue
• Kirby Avenue, west of Prospect Avenue
• Kirby Avenue, east of Mattis Avenue
• Windsor Road, east of Galen Drive
• Windsor Road, east of Mattis Avenue
• Curtis Road, east of Mattis Avenue
• Curtis Road, east of Duncan Road
• Neil Street, south of St. Mary’s Road
• Church Street, east of Country Fair Drive
If approved, the new technology could be fully up and running by March. The report for council notes that if the city wants to continue with the technology beyond the two-year agreement, officials would need to find another funding source.