A plan to install surveillance cameras on one of our biggest bridges is raising questions about how they'll be used and how much it'll cost taxpayers.
Alton Police held an open meeting Saturday to discuss the cameras. The plan would install four license plate reading cameras on the Clark Bridge between north St. Louis County and Madison County, Illinois.
The cameras would cover all lanes in each direction of the bridge. Police said they would be used to identify stolen vehicles, cars linked to major crimes, and potential drug runners. “This is not a red light camera system,” said Lt. Gary Cranmer. “It does not have the capabilities and it's not going to necessarily be used for traffic-related enforcement.”
5 on Your Side spoke with dozens of Alton-area drivers. Many of them support the plan. “I just feel like if you don't have anything to hide or you don't do anything wrong, you shouldn't have anything to worry about,” said Tammie Emmons. But not everyone likes the idea of being watched. “Once they start invading your privacy you don’t know where it's going to go or if it's going to progress or not,” said Tammy Rouse.
The program would cost $40,000. The cost would be split between Alton, the city of Godfrey and the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office. Police said at least 2/3rds will be paid with drug forfeiture dollars.
All police departments in the Riverbend area would be able to access the data collected. The data would be stored at the St. Louis Police Department’s real-time crime center. The camera vendor said the information is never sold to a third party.
The Alton Police department said the program still needs final approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation. If approved, the cameras could be in place and operational in four to six weeks.