The city will help pay for home security cameras, which CPD hopes to add to its network

Chicago home and small business owners concerned about violent crime will soon be eligible for rebates to cover the cost of security cameras, outdoor motion sensor lighting, cloud storage and vehicle GPS trackers .

For the fourth time in five days, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is giving a multi-million dollar gift to the people of Chicago ahead of a mayoral election in less than a year.

Last week it was 50,000 gas cards worth $150 each, 100,000 loaded Ventra cards worth $50 each and 5,000 free bikes, helmets, locks and lights for Chicagoans willing to try a alternative mode of transport.

This week’s $5.3 million giveaway offers “discounts up to certain limits that cover the cost of outdoor security cameras and one year of cloud storage for video footage,” according to a press release from the company. town. The discounts also apply to outdoor motion sensor lighting and vehicle GPS trackers.

Homeowners will be able to receive “up to $225 per camera for a total of $450” in home security expenses.

“That means if you want to buy a $50 camera, you can buy more than one. We know of many associations and other places that have multiple entrances,” said Tamara Mahal, coordination chief of the city’s community safety coordination center.

“You will also be eligible for certain subscription fees for the first year of cloud-based subscription. … For lighting, you will be entitled to up to $100 per lamp. vehicles, you’ll be entitled to up to $50 per device and up to one year of subscription fees.

The city has budgeted about $5.3 million through 2024 for the reimbursement program, said Mahal, who did not disclose where the money came from.

All funded camera systems will be registered with the Chicago Police Department to increase coverage in crime-ridden neighborhoods and help provide inundated CPD officers with the video evidence they need to solve crimes. violent crimes.

Lightfoot also urged Chicago landlords and small business owners to register their existing cameras with the Chicago Police Department.

The shed program — and a million-dollar fundraiser for what Lightfoot billed as the largest gun shed program in Chicago history — follows suggestions made during a series of public meetings on public safety.

Installation should not be an obstacle, the mayor said.

“If you’ve been wanting to get a camera for your home, for your business, but haven’t taken the plunge or been barred from the money, now is the time to act.” And if you’re like me — not very comfortable with the tools, but want to take advantage of them — we can help you with that too,” Lightfoot said during a press conference at the Chicago Tabernacle, 3231 N. Cicero Ave.

“This technology will create a visible deterrent to crime and provide tremendous access and assistance to CPD investigations, no doubt bolstering their efforts to hold criminals accountable and solve crimes much faster.”

Lightfoot pointed out that the program is voluntary, but with a catch.

“If you sign up and get the discount, we want you to register your camera with the CPD,” the mayor said. “This streak is really important. So many crimes have been solved in the past year just because we were able to access residential video or video with landlord consent. This will only speed up this process. We already have a network of registrations. Detectives will know exactly where to go.

DPC Superintendent David Brown urged all Chicago residents and business owners to register their existing camera systems.

“Video is a crucial and critical part of solving all crimes, but especially homicides and shootings,” Brown said, citing two recent examples of burglaries and carjackings solved by previously recorded cameras.

Chicago police at the scene of a January carjacking attempt in the Chatham neighborhood. Two people were shot, including a 3-year-old child, in the 7900 block of South King Drive.

Tyler LaRivière/Sun-Times

Brown assured that participating home and business owners, CPD, do not have direct access to the recorded camera systems. The police department also cannot access the camera footage without the consent of the home or business owner. And participating home and business owners are not required to provide images to the CPD, even after a crime.

“Your permission is still required to share these images,” Brown said.

“The camera system is your property and you have the right to refuse any request. Your information will not be shared with anyone. And you can also request that your information be deleted at any time.

Lightfoot said she wasn’t comfortable with the idea “that we’re just going to operate these cameras automatically, even though the technology would allow” CPD to do just that.

“We need to earn the trust and faith of our residents and not have a Big Brother-style camera system,” she said.

The mayor noted that some more affluent neighborhoods in Chicago are filled with security cameras, while communities “with a long history of violent crime” have relatively few.

“These are precisely the areas where we would be very interested in helping homeowners gain access to a variety of different options. … We don’t want cost to be a barrier,” Lightfoot said.

In countless meetings with community organizations and neighborhood club leaders, Mahal said he repeatedly heard that more people would have security cameras if there was financial help. A single doorbell camera could cost “over $200,” she noted.

“This is a needed resource…especially in our most vulnerable communities,” Mahal added.

Some members of the city council – which has yet to approve the mayor’s gift parade – were suspicious of the mayor’s motives.

“There is a pattern here. It’s Christmas in April,” Ald said. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who is considering a mayoral campaign against Lightfoot.

“These generous giveaways using taxpayers’ money are an obvious attempt to buy favorable support. … We are entering campaign season. It changes everything. She’s a politically unpopular mayor. It’s a fact. Whether she can get the backing of the city council for what could be an obvious political ploy remains to be seen.

Aldus. Roderick Sawyer (6th), another potential challenger for mayor, discovered the latest freebie after a briefing on gasoline and Ventra freebies.

During at least one briefing, suspicious aldermen have demanded to know whether the personalized maps for the town – or the brochure sent with the maps – will contain Lightfoot’s name or a message from the mayor.

If they do, there could be significant opposition from city council, sources said.

“We just give everything. I just don’t think that’s the right way to govern – to give things away. I have a real problem with that,” Sawyer said.

“We have to make life better for everyone. Don’t just give out trinkets and make people feel better. It’s not a real relief. It is a temporary solution. It’s a bandage.

Potential mayoral challenger Paul Vallas called the camera refund a desperate move by a mayor destined to serve just one term.

Instead of giving things away, Vallas urged Lightfoot to provide across-the-board relief by rolling back automatic indexation tying annual property tax increases to the rate of inflation.

“She has absolutely no answer to the public safety challenges facing the city, so she resorts to these gadgets. This is a questionable use of stimulus money and yet again a lack of respect for the city council. Doing things unilaterally without even consulting the city council,” Vallas said.

“When she’s not manipulating or distorting [crime] data, she resorts to… meaningless things that are more pragmatic than substantial, like handing out these cameras. This is clearly a political act of desperation and further proof that they have absolutely no idea what they are doing.

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