Gold Coast group will buy license plate readers and surveillance cameras to supplement private security patrols, fundraising letter says

By Inside Publications

As more and more Chicago residents hire private security companies to patrol their neighborhoods, a Gold Coast group is taking its crime-fighting efforts to the next level.

Gold Coast Neighbors Association (GCNA), which has been paying for summertime patrols by off-duty cops for eight years, is now preparing to install its own license plate reader and camera system, according to a fundraising letter.

A Flock Safety surveillance unit is seen in a photo provided by the company. | Flock Safety

The letter asked for contributions to install systems from Flock Safety, a security tech company whose cameras and plate readers are already popular with community groups in the suburbs.

It’s an option more and more communities on the North Side may look at and adopt as some residents and businesses fear crime will escalate this summer.

The letter calls crime and safety, “the most important issue on the minds of most of us.” It invites neighbors to “join GCNA in battling the ongoing criminal threats to the quality of [life]” by supporting their fundraiser.

“Because of violent crime in our neighborhood in the past year, the 2022 fundraising effort is more critical than ever,” says the letter, signed by GCNA president Amy Lemar.

GCNA also says that thanks to the “generous contributions of neighborhood businesses,” they plan to expand their security patrol to “times when the safety of our neighbors, residents, and businesses are threatened by criminal activity such as carjacking, rioting and looting.”

The group said it will install the system member buildings for testing, to see if it is effective in fighting crime and providing evidence for police to use when a crime occurs.

Flock’s equipment will capture vehicles’ license plates, make, model, color, and other key identifiers, as well as track how many times a vehicle has been seen on camera in the last 30 days.

The equipment will be tied into the 18th District Police station in real time, “allowing them to be able to proactively respond to the alert before a crime is committed,” the letter said.

Those feeds will be monitored and processed through Flock Safety’s nationwide footage network, the Leads List, which catalogues reports of stolen cars nationwide.

According to GCNA’s website, the group hires two off-duty police officers through a private security company to patrol the Gold Coast in summertime, particularly during the evening and early morning hours.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com