Police POD cameras planned for Portage Park, Gladstone Park; walk held at Lockwood-Belle Plaine where man murdered
by WILLIAM SWANSON and BRIAN NADIG
The installation of police surveillance “POD”cameras is planned for the Portage Park, Gladstone Park and possibly other area communities.
The POD program was discussed at the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District’s Jan. 15 “Walk and Talk with Tact” event at Lockwood and Belle Plaine avenues, where a fatal shooting occurred last month.
The neighborhood walks, which are held periodically in response to crime patterns and other problems, allow residents to ask the district’s tactical officers questions. In what police have described as a targeted shooting, a 33-year-old man on Dec. 28 died from a gunshot wound he suffered while in a parked car in the 4000 block of North Lockwood Avenue.
Billed as a new way to "share information to solve existing crimes and prevent future crimes,” the walks help "build bridges and create partnerships with the community," tactical lieutenant Terry Forbes said. About 30 residents along with aldermen Nicholas Sposato (38th) and James Gardiner (45th) participated in the walk.
Sposato announced that a Police Observation Device recently was installed at the intersection of Irving Park Road and Central Avenue. Its installation cost about $27,000 and was funded through the 38th Ward’s annual $1.32 million discretionary budget, which can be used for a variety of infrastructure improvements.
Sposato said after the walk that the Irving-Central camera is the only one in the ward and its location was chosen in part because fleeing criminals often use Irving Park Road to access the Kennedy Expressway. Several of the reported homicides and shootings in the district since 2019 have occurred along Irving Park or a nearby side street.
A POD also is being installed at the intersection of Milwaukee and Elston avenues due to crime-related concerns expressed by the community, Alderman Samantha Nugent (39th) said in an interview. On June 29 a woman was fatally shot at the Esquire Motel, 6145 N. Elston Ave., during a reported drug transaction, and a man was arrested about two months later in connection with the incident.
The camera along with one at Bryn Mawr and Kedzie avenues in the 17th (Albany Park) District are being funded through the “Invest in Cook” grant program with the assistance of County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-10), according to Nugent.
“We’ve definitely had a lot of people reporting … public safety concerns in the past year,” Nugent said.
In addition, Gardiner said that he also exploring several locations for POD cameras in the 45th Ward. He said that a camera most likely would be installed at the “Six Corners” intersection of Milwaukee Avenue, Cicero Avenue and Irving Park and that he is seeking PODs that would have license plate reader technology to better assist in police investigations.
“I’m searching for locations in our ward that would be most advantageous to solve crime issues,” Gardiner said.
The placement of PODs are based on a crime analysis of a proposed location and the availability of a reliable power source and a structure that the device can be securely attached to. The 16th District has experienced 20 homicides in the past 17 months, compared to a typical year of zero to five murders.
Efforts are bing made to set up a monitoring area at the 16th District Station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave., so that an officer can be reviewing the POD footage at all times, Sposato said. Most police stations in the city have a monitoring area, he said.
As for surveillance cameras on private buildings, Forbes said that residents and merchants should contact the district anytime their cameras capture footage of a crime and that cameras play a key role in helping police to identify suspects.
Also at the walk, Sposato called on residents to contact Governor Pritzker’s office and urge the governor to veto the "Statewide Use of Force Standardization" legislation, which the General Assembly recently approved. The bill seeks to reform the criminal justice system and law enforcement in Illinois.
Opponents argue the legislation is an overreach that would hinder effective law enforcement, while supporters says eliminating cash bail and addressing use of force problems by police would make for a more equitable justice system.
(photo by William Swanson)