Bellwood Cleans Up with IP Video

An Illinois suburb reduces crime and enhances response with a community-wide wireless IP surveillance system


In April 2005, the village of Bellwood , IL, accelerated on a new road to security and safety using wireless technology and IP video surveillance.

This Chicago suburb of more than 20,500 citizens borders other communities with high crime that threatened to spill over. Gang activities, guns, drugs, robberies, even murder endangered Bellwood citizens and the police who work to protect them. Bellwood employs 60 sworn officers, and they were receiving 28,000 emergency calls to 9-1-1 each year.

To help stop the spread of crime into the community, systems integrator Current Technologies Corporation (CTC), a Certified Milestone Partner and Cisco Premium Partner, has installed a variety of wireless technologies to reach into neighborhoods and completely cover the town with a pure IP video surveillance solution, using a mix of network cameras from Sony, Axis, JVC and IPIX. Milestone XProtect Enterprise software manages the video.

 

Not Shifting Crime; Eradicating It

“Bellwood came to us and said: ‘We want to be associated with the Western suburbs of Chicago that are nice and crime-free, and we believe this is the way to get there.' Roy McCampbell, the comptroller and CFO at the Village of Bellwood , and Mayor (Frank) Pasquale are very committed to making a difference, changing the image of the town, cleaning up crime. Our wireless IP surveillance solution is their main tool,” said Steve Daugherty, president of CTC.

What started as 21 surveillance cameras quickly grew to more than 40 in the risk areas identified by police: the village perimeter, major parkways, public gathering places, and higher-crime locations. Many other installations are in progress towards an initial goal of more than 60 cameras, including those inside the police building. The plan is to have surveillance spread throughout the community.

“If cameras are only set up on the east border of the village, where there's more tendency for crime, it could have the effect of pushing the crime around and moving it further into Bellwood . But the goal is to get rid of the crime, so the entire city is going to be well monitored,” explained Daugherty.

 

A Force Multiplier

The police cars in the force are equipped with monitors and keyboards that are wirelessly connected to the surveillance system for mobile capacity and instant overview of multiple locations.

“They see the surveillance as a force multiplier, increasing the capabilities of their police officers by giving them many additional virtual eyes and ears monitoring the neighborhoods. An officer can physically be in one location and see what is going on in the bordering areas at the same time,” said Daugherty.

The radio dispatch personnel who handle 9-1-1 emergency calls also monitor the village's new cameras like a central control room, identifying situations as they develop. This allows them to be proactive, defusing incidents before they escalate and responding more quickly to dangerous situations.

“Just yesterday there was a pretty bad accident at a busy intersection that the radio room could clearly see. They zoomed in to determine that two cars were involved and really smashed up. They immediately called the ambulances and tow trucks, ensuring the right emergency response very quickly,” explained McCampbell. “With this surveillance, they are able to stay ahead of what's going on and assess situations better.”

 

Clearly Identifying Criminals

CTC installed its first prototype of the wireless IP surveillance solution in the higher-crime area of Maywood , bordering on Bellwood . One of the most dangerous locations there is a crack house inhabited by a notorious gang, who threatened the CTC employee installing a camera nearby.

CTC customized this system, implementing covert cameras as well as traditional ones. A grey utility box installed on a light pole hides a camera in one location, according to Chris Moomey, account manager at CTC.

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