Roscoe Village Group Unveils Privately-Funded Surveillance Camera System

A local group called the Roscoe Village Neighbors Association is launching a new system of surveillance cameras designed to deter crime and to assist Chicago police in their investigations.

The new privately-maintained cameras, dubbed “Neighborhood on Watch,” were officially unveiled this week. The RVNA called the event “Police Appreciation Day” as the system was revealed to the public.

“The city isn’t and may not have the resources to protect us, so we’re going to have to do it ourselves,” Commonwealth Tavern owner Matthew Baldino said.

The RVNA has allocated $40,000 to business owners and residents in Roscoe Village to help pay for the installation of 27 cameras. The cameras will record day and night, and will feed into a cloud network that can be accessed by police if there is a crime committed.

Some cameras were already installed at the Commonwealth Tavern, and the group says that they have already worked, capturing images of theft suspects over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Getting into the new system could be pricey for residents and businesses, as it will cost a few hundred dollars to buy a ‘bridge’ for existing cameras, or up to $1,300 to install cameras and a bridge to the cloud network for new installations.

According to the group, only the Roscoe Village Neighbors Association, and the residents and businesses using the specific camera, will have access to it. The board will only grant access to Chicago police if a police report is filed.

“It’s not as if the city or police are constantly watching the cameras or even have access to the feeds,” Roscoe Village Neighborhood Watch Committee member Jason Elster said. “We don’t constantly monitor the feeds either.”

Some residents feel that the camera network should be expanded.

“Every once in a while you need a little extra surveillance for something and it’s nice to know it’s available when you need it,” Michael Kingston said.

Others, however, cite privacy concerns, and expressed worry that the camera system may go too far.

Baldino disputes that notion, saying that the cameras will make would-be criminals “more weary” of coming into the neighborhood.

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