Parts of Forest Park will be under government video surveillance starting Monday, April 21, according to Mayor Rory Hoskins.
In a letter distributed by the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce on April 7, Hoskins said three new surveillance cameras were being activated in “high traffic locations” along Madison Street, with locations at Harlem, Circle and Desplaines avenues, beginning later this month. A license-plate reader will also be up and running at Harlem and Madison. The village council agreed to purchase the camera and license-plate reader systems in January.
Hoskins’ letter was distributed as temperatures are expected to rise and larger crowds could begin gathering on Madison Street, which is home to a number of late-night bars. It was at this time last year that the village was embroiled in a conflict between business owners and village hall over rowdy behavior on Madison Street, followed by a crackdown on that alleged bad behavior near certain bars in the weeks and months that followed.
One of those bars, Forest Park Tap Room, had its liquor license revoked in 2021 following numerous citations, but that revocation was overturned by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission earlier this year. The Tap Room reopened after its license was reinstated but was already issued a one-week suspension in March for failing to maintain the bar “in a peaceable and orderly manner.”
Hoskins’ letter does not address any specific incidents but says that police patrols will be more frequent on Madison Street in addition to the new video surveillance. He said Chief of Police Ken Gross is increasing patrols in the area “to increase police visibility and for traffic enforcement” and added that Gross could potentially activate the village’s auxiliary police force, if necessary, on Friday and Saturday nights. He noted that officers already perform regular “premise checks” to ensure compliance with all village ordinances.
“Despite increased costs due to overtime, this [extra] detail is beginning this month,” Hoskins wrote. “The detail will be focusing their efforts on traffic and ordinance enforcement along Madison Street from Harlem to the Des Plaines River.”
One additional law enforcement measure was announced in Hoskins’ letter, aimed at curbing loud music coming from cars traveling down Madison. By April 12, the village’s public works department will be installing a new sign at Elgin Avenue and Madison that reads, “Loud music is a violation of Forest Park village code. Drivers can be fined up to $750.”
The village’s full allotment of surveillance cameras will be installed in the “next several weeks” according to the letter. The cameras will be located at:
- Harlem Avenue and Roosevelt Road
- Harlem Avenue and Jackson Boulevard
- Harlem Avenue and Circle Avenue
- Desplaines Avenue and Roosevelt Road
- Desplaines Avenue and Randolph Street
- First Avenue and Roosevelt Road
- North water tower
- South water tower
Three additional license plate readers will be installed at Harlem and Roosevelt, Desplaines and Roosevelt, and First and Roosevelt.
The camera system was approved for purchase from Griffon Systems LLC for $163,275 at the village council meeting on Jan. 10. The cameras and license-plate readers are designed to aid police in solving and preventing crime, according to Gross.