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New cameras being installed at Coal City parks

COAL CITY – New cameras are being installed in Coal City parks with the intent of preventing crime – or catching those committing one.

Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland announced this week that his office has partnered with the Coal City Police Department to place several surveillance cameras in Lions Park and Campbell Park.

Helland’s office will pay $10,000 for the initial cost of the purchase and installation of cameras, according to a news release from Helland.

“I have received several complaints from concerned citizens about criminal activity in parks in Coal City; as a result, I have taken measures to reduce crime by purchasing these cameras,” Helland said in the news release.

“We need to encourage families to go to the parks and engage in recreational activities with their children and not worry about criminal activity being present,” he said in the news release. “There is nothing more American than playing a game of catch with the kids.”

The cameras will enable the police department to monitor the parks 24/7.

Coal City police Chief Tom Best said Wednesday that officers can patrol the parks only so much, so having cameras monitoring the parks is a backup tool for the department.

“I don’t want our parks to be a place for drug dealers to go, and I don’t want our parks to be a place for illegal things to happen,” Best said.

Coal City currently has cameras at the parks, but they are in need of major upgrades, Best said, which will be possible with the state’s attorney’s funds.

Helland also said he plans to work with Best to implement a K-9 program in the future. Currently, Coal City’s department does not have enough manpower to train someone for a K-9 unit.

The funds for the cameras will come from the state’s attorney’s drug asset forfeiture account. During fiscal 2013, the Grundy County State’s Attorney’s Office forfeited more than $100,000 in assets seized and is third out of 102 counties in Illinois in drug asset forfeiture, behind only Cook and Will counties, according to the news release.

The office receives 12.5 percent of all property forfeited for the use of enforcement of drug laws.

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