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Oak Lawn Police Chief Dan Vittorio (from left) presents Life Saving Awards to Sgt. Sean Heilig and Officer Matthew Atkinson for providing medical attention to a man who suffered gunshot wounds. The awards were presented during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting Tuesday night. The actions of Heilig and Atkinson most likely saved the victim's life, according to hospital staff. (Photo by Joe Boyle)

Oak Lawn Police Chief Dan Vittorio (from left) presents Life Saving Awards to Sgt. Sean Heilig and Officer Matthew Atkinson for providing medical attention to a man who suffered gunshot wounds. The awards were presented during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting Tuesday night. The actions of Heilig and Atkinson most likely saved the victim's life, according to hospital staff. (Photo by Joe Boyle)

Oak Lawn approves license plate readers at village entrances

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Business license fees on hold for one year

By Joe Boyle

A series of cameras will be set up in Oak Lawn to monitor vehicles entering and exiting the village that may be involved in acts of crime.

A resolution waiving the competitive bidding requirements awarding a services agreement with the Flock Camera Safety network for 42 license plate readers for the Oak Lawn Police Department was approved during the village board meeting Tuesday night.

Flock sells the cameras to law enforcement agencies and neighborhood associations. The agency representatives who attended the meeting said they work with public and private organizations in over 1,500 municipalities to capture evidence that reduces crime.

Oak Lawn Police Chief Dan Vittorio said that Flock will allow the department to read license plates of vehicles entering and leaving the village. It will allow the police to detect offenders quickly, he said. Not only will the cameras recognize the license plates of stolen vehicles and those wanted for other crimes, but will also detect the make of the car and color, according to Flock officials.

Flock representatives said these images will be linked to the FBI data base, the Amber Alert system, and the Illinois State Police list of stolen vehicles.

The cost of the system will be reduced after a year because funding will also come out of equitable sharing funds, or money confiscated through drug sales, Vittorio said.

Village Manager Tom Phelan said the initial expense was not an issue if this system is able to be used to track down offenders of violent crimes.

“We live in a world where criminals are released and committing more crimes,” Phelan said. “It will be only used to get the ‘bad guys.’”

Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) asked Flock representatives what needs to be done to get the cameras installed as soon as possible? Flock officials said that they need to go through the Illinois Department of Transportation and whatever board members could do to assist would help.

The process could take as long as five or six months, according to Flock.

“I commend our police for being pro-active,” Olejniczak said. “We’re telling criminals that if you come into our village, we will be coming to get you.”

Flock representatives pointed out that the village is buying the data and not the cameras. What this means is that Flock is responsible for the upkeep of the cameras and not the village, according to the contract.

Vittorio, addressing some concerns of Flock by some agencies including the American Civil Liberties Union, said the readers will only be used for crimes.

ACLU officials are concerned that the expansion of Flock has been increasing and the agency is using fear to sell the cameras to municipalities in the state.

Mayor Terry Vorderer said that was not the case. Camera use to monitor crime has become a way of life in this country the past few years, he said.

“The bus has left the station a long time ago regarding cameras,” the mayor said.

Vittorio and Flock officials said the images captured by the cameras will remain in the system for 30 days before being deleted by the company and the police.

Business licenses fees waived

The Oak Lawn Village Board approved by a unanimous vote waiving business license fees for a year to provide support for local businesses and restaurants.

“I feel good helping out the businesses of Oak Lawn,” said Trustee Paul Mallo (3rd).

Mallo and Trustee Ralph Soch (6th) had proposed waiving the fees to help out businesses who have been hampered by the pandemic the past couple of years. Mallo said the idea was first brought up by Vorderer and the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce.

“We modified this (ordinance) so that the businesses have to be located in the village,” Soch said.

Phelan said that it was believed that initially this relief for businesses would cost the village $650,000. However, after going over the figures, the cost will actually range between $450,000 to $500,000, he said.

Most businesses will receive on average a $600 credit, Phelan said. This plan will be for businesses who are established in the village, or someone who resides out of the village but does have a business in Oak Lawn, the village manager added.

“I think it is a good move after going through COVID and possibly entering a recession,” Phelan said.

Life Saving Awards

Oak Lawn Sgt. Sean Heilig and Officer Matthew Atkinson received Life Saving Awards for aiding a man with gunshot wounds on May 10. Heilig and Atkinson were near 107th and Cicero at about 6 p.m. when they heard gunshots. After broadcasting the information to dispatch, Heilig located a vehicle stopped on 107th Street where a male victim staggered out, covered in blood with injuries consistent with gunshot wounds. Heilig and Atkinson immediately provided medical assistance to the victim, according to police.

Heilig applied pressure to the wound on the victim’s chest, while Atkinson applied a tourniquet to the area where he was shot. Both Heilig and Atkinson continued to administer medical assistance until relieved by Oak Lawn paramedics.

The victim had lost a large amount of blood but due to medical aid provided by Heilig and Atkinson, hospital staff indicated they most likely saved his life.

Fourth of July Parade

Mallo also applauded everyone involved in organizing the Fourth of July Parade on July 2.

“It was a great day,” Mallo said. “The concert (after the parade) was excellent. I want to thank the police and the fire departments for keeping us safe in light of what happened in Highland Park.”

Vorderer also praised those officials and volunteers who organized the parade.

“Certainly, the parade had the greatest attendance I have ever seen,” the mayor said.

Vorderer also presented a proclamation honoring Patrick Dunne on his 40th anniversary with Edward Jones Financial Services.

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