More surveillance cameras coming to Plainfield

Brock A. Stein | 6/18/2014, 11:37 a.m.
Plainfield trustee Jim Racich invoked the George Orwell novel 1984 and its dystopian state of constant surveillance under the watchful ...
The village of Plainfield will use drug forfeiture money to purchase nine surveillance cameras for downtown and area parks.

Plainfield trustee Jim Racich invoked the George Orwell novel 1984 and its dystopian state of constant surveillance under the watchful gaze of Big Brother when he spoke out against a request to purchase police cameras Monday.

Racich criticized the increasing surveillance of residents saying that the cameras were intrusive and bordered on unnecessary.

“We’re policing our people all too much,” said Racich, “I feel it’s ridiculous.”

Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek brought a request before the board to purchase security cameras that will be placed along the village’s river front Electric Park area and for a mobile camera system that would be used for special events that are held in the village during the year.

The Plainfield Riverfront Foundation agreed to partner with the police to cover $10,000 of the $93,265 total for the fixed camera upgrades which will include a total of 9 cameras; two cameras at the riverfront, 2 at the police campus on Coil Plus Dr., 2 at Settler’s Park and one each at Van Dyke Park, the Settler’s Park band Shell, and at Lockport Street and Countryman Drive.

The mobile camera system will cost $63,495 and will include an audio system that can be used to make public announcements.

Konopek said that all of the funds for the purchase would come from drug asset forfeiture funds which did little to appease trustees Dan Rippy and Jim Racich who both voted against the expenditures.

While acknowledging that crime is down in the village, Rippy balked at the $156,000 price tag for the additional cameras calling it a “bridge too far.”

Konopek defended the purchase noting that disagreements between attendees at Plainfield Fest last year gave police advanced notice and an opportunity to intervene before a brawl had a chance to break out.

The mobile camera system he said helps officers do their job more efficiently.

“What one camera can do would probably take 4,6,10 officers depending on the size of the crowd,” he said.

He also pointed to an arsonist who was caught last year when temporary cameras were set up in the neighborhood where fires were being deliberately set.

“The vast majority of the general public are good people,” said Konopek.

“We have to use whatever technology we can to help protect those good people so their lives don’t suffer.”

Konopek also defended the purchases saying that asset forfeiture funds are to be used for crime prevention which he said the new cameras would help village police do.

“That is exactly what asset forfeiture is for,” said Konopek.