“At this point, what we would like to do, is implement an intelligence-led, policing fusion center, if you will,” said Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea, before the City Council Committee on Monday.
O’Shea is seeking a little more than $1 million worth of technologies that his department could use in order to better police the city. A large portion, $480,000, would be used to buy two ‘Shot Spotter’ units, which are used to help police pinpoint the exact location of where a gun was fired.
O’Shea also wants seven more license plate readers that would cost $140,000, and 40 surveillance cameras to be installed at intersections across the city at a cost of $200,000. The remaining money would be used to hire six more officers.
“I know it works. I’ve seen it work. I’ve seen information centers and fusion centers work previously, so I know they’ll work here too,” he added.
O’Shea assured the council that the surveillance cameras would only be to monitor criminal activity, and not to invade anyone’s privacy.
“The pan, tilt, zoom cameras at different locations, (would be in) public domains… again, not in residential areas, not looking in windows spying on people, just in very common open areas,” he said.
The proposal is something most Alderman, including Venita Hervey, said they can stand behind. “We can’t, as they said, arrest our way out of it. We’ve got to get smarter about fighting it and with crime interdiction procedures,” Alderman Hervey said.
Community activist Prophet Yusef, who’s lived in Rockford for the last 11 years, also believed these would be steps in the right direction.
“If you add up all the crime that’s been going on in Rockford, it’s [costing the city] over a million dollars. You’ll be saving money. Plus, you’ll be saving lives,” Prophet Yusef said.
Chief O’Shea said he has been working on securing federal funding to help pay for the upgrades. A vote hasn’t been made at City Council yet to determine if the department will get funding.