Champaign and Urbana advise weighing license plate readers to fight gun violence | Politics

CHAMPAIGN – Automated license plate readers could be used in Champaign and Urbana by the end of the year to help police fight escalating gun violence.

Champaign city council approved the lease and launch of the new technology in a study session on Tuesday, but approval of a contract will only take place at the next council session which is expected to take place. in November.

Urbana city council was asked on Monday to approve a budget amendment to move forward with plaque readers, but aldermen have chosen to delay action until they see a final policy on the how they will be used.

According to Atlanta-based Flock Safety, the company that would act as a contractor for the two cities.

Champaign and Urbana officials said they plan to place automated readers in fixed strategic locations where they are likely to do the most good, as both cities face an increase in violent crime.

In Champaign, there have been more than 200 confirmed reports of gunfire and 12 people who have died from gunshot wounds as of September 30.

For all of 2020, there were 189 confirmed shooting incidents, while in 2019 there were 100.

In Urbana, 88 gunshots were reported and seven fatal shots as of September 30.

There were 53 confirmed shootings in Urbana in 2020 and 33 in 2019, according to information presented to city council last month.

Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said the use of automated license plate readers would be an important first step in an investigation, as witnesses and victims are often either unable to provide identifying information on a vehicle used in a shootout, or unwilling to provide them to the police.

“For me, this is the most cost effective and least invasive tool we have available today,” she said.

City administrator Carol Mitten said Urbana staff would like to install a minimum of 20 automated license plate readers by the end of the year, if council approves it.

Flock would charge Urbana the same price as Champaign – $ 2,500 for the use of each drive plus an installation fee of $ 250 per unit.

Flock Safety is already under contract with the Decatur and Rantoul police departments for automated license plate readers, Champaign officials say.

The municipal administration of Champaign recommended signing a two-year rental agreement with Flock Safety to implement and install 36 automated fixed-mount license plate readers for $ 99,000 in the first year (installation fee included) ) and $ 90,000 the second year.

Preliminary deployment plans call for placing Champaign’s automated license plate readers on arteries and roads most likely to be used by people committing gun violence.

Champaign’s board also approved an option to add gunshot detection technology, which Flock Safety was offering for 1.3 square miles of coverage for one year at no additional cost.

“When a gunshot occurs, the acoustic sensors pick up the sound,” a note told the council. “Artificial intelligence algorithms are then used to authenticate the sound as that of a real gunshot. If / when a shot occurs, the same acoustic sensors use the triangulation process to identify the precise location within a meter of the shot (s). “

This information is transmitted to agents connected to the automated license plate reading system at the time and can also be transmitted to reception staff or to METCAD, the city council was told.

In addition to the security cameras already in use at Champaign for public safety, Champaign City Manager Dorothy David authorized the purchase of five additional security cameras for $ 17,740 to monitor city-owned parking lots and the purchase of a mobile video trailer for $ 34,291 that the police can deploy to monitor the safety of important community events or during unforeseen incidents threatening public safety.

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