Homer Glen stalls license plate cameras amid privacy concerns

Homer Glen officials have put a number plate reading system on hold after delays in installing cameras on main roads and concerns from local residents.

The Village Board voted in January to purchase 10 license plate cameras and install them on major thoroughfares to assist the Will County Sheriff’s Office in solving crimes.

But trustee Ruben Pazmino said residents were worried they had a false sense of security and their privacy had been invaded. He said while the village researches whether to go ahead with the scheme, one option is to seek input from residents via a referendum in April.

“From what I’ve heard, it’s split down the middle,” Pazmino said. “At the end of the day, when we have all our information … maybe go to the referendum and let our public vote what they want.”

Trustee Rose Reynders said more residents opposed the cameras than supported them because it could be an invasion of their privacy.

Trustee Dan Fialko said he wanted statistics on how many crimes the cameras had solved in neighboring communities.

The contract with Flock Safety was signed in February, but the company encountered delays in obtaining permits to install eight of the cameras on state and provincial rights of way, angering village officials over the program.

Hector Soliman-Valdez, a Flock Safety representative, said Wednesday that permitting issues have been resolved and the village has not been charged over the delay. He said the company is ready to install the cameras.

“That’s our top priority,” he said.

If the village wants to use the cameras, it will cost an initial price of $29,000 and a $25,000 annual subscription starting in 2023. The board agreed to a pilot phase where they could cancel the contract after the first 60 days once the Cameras were set up.

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According to Flock Safety, the cameras help locate stolen cars, compare license plates of wanted criminals, help locate missing children or seniors, and assist police in their investigations. You can sort vehicles by make, color, or identifiable features like roof racks or bumper stickers.

The cameras will be deployed in New Lenox, Mokena, Frankfort, Joliet and Romeoville, Soliman-Valdez said.

The company does not use facial recognition software, and the cameras are not used for traffic surveillance, such as B. Speeding or running red lights, he said. The data is stored for 30 days.

Village officials said they would discuss the camera system in committee meetings, including a newly created Community Safeguard Committee, and seek more feedback before deciding their next steps.

The Village Board also voted Wednesday to create a Behavioral Health and Addiction Recovery Committee to focus on alcohol and drug prevention, treatment and services and to advocate for mental health needs.

Pazmino, who pledged a $2,000 donation to the committee, said it was long overdue and that too many people had died from the opioid epidemic.

Michelle Mullins is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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