An innovative camera system being installed in River Forest to help police monitor some of their busiest corridors could be coming to Forest Park, too. Chief Jim Ryan has had several conversations with the River Forest Police Department, and the community’s vendor responsible for installing the system. The discussions have been “exploratory,” said Ryan, but the Forest Park chief is interested in using a network of high-resolution cameras to monitor roadways and alleys, and, potentially, tapping into security systems within schools, banks and other institutions.

For the time being, Forest Park and River Forest are hammering out the terms of an agreement that would allow the neighboring police department to install a wireless transmitter on a water tower located on the north side of Forest Park. That device would relay images from River Forest’s network of cameras to the police station. River Forest Deputy Chief Greg Weiss said he expects those cameras to be installed sometime in the spring, and that the unblinking electronic eyes would be trained on the community’s shopping district.

Tim Gillian, Forest Park’s village administrator, said he favors an agreement that would encourage the two police departments to share information and resources that would ultimately help solve crimes. Asking River Forest to pay a monthly fee to place the transmitter on Forest Park’s water tower is not a priority, said Gillian.

The technology being adopted by the River Forest Police Department also caught Gillian’s eye.

“It’s things like … a fleeing felon, we can catch him coming out of the building,” Gillian said. Using the cameras to zoom in on the suspect’s face – or the car he jumps into – police have a better chance of finding their suspect, according to proponents of video surveillance.

Ryan has already met with school administrators and park district officials to discuss the system’s online capabilities. Any institution with a closed circuit surveillance system that can be accessed online could also be viewed by police. Participating organizations could then allow investigators to see – in real time – how a hostage situation is unfolding, or where a fire is spreading.

The potential advantage this gives to responding officers is enormous, according to Weiss.

The program’s software also allows users to “block out” camera views into windows, said Weiss, thus limiting the potential for intrusive or inappropriate use.

If Forest Park decided to install a network of high-resolution cameras, the costs to the village are not yet clear. Per camera, River Forest will pay more than $13,000. The police department has plans to install 10 cameras, according to Weiss.