The Oak Brook Police Department plans to continue increasing its use of technology as a major tool in fighting crime and keeping the village safe.
Automated license plate readers were installed for use in 2022 in eight of Oak Brook’s subdivisions, with a 50/50 program initiated by the village, allowing for a shared cost with residents of those subdivisions. The village also has put up an additional seven plate readers on village owned roadways and purchased a mobile license plate reader/video surveillance trailer along with hand held GPS launchers to help safely track vehicles that flee, Police Chief Brian Strockis said.
“My vision for the Oak Brook Police Department is simple,” he said. “We are going to keep our schools safe, our residential area’s safe and our business community safe.”
While the use of technology is just one of the methods Oak Brook police will use, it’s an important, and growing, tool.
A drone system is planned for the near future, and Strockis said the department is in the process of instituting a virtual real time crime center, called FUSUS. It is software that has the ability to integrate disparate camera surveillance systems and put them on a single platform that can be accessed by officers in real time.
“The Oak Brook Police Department is committed to leveraging technology as a force multiplier to keep our community safe,” said Strockis, who took over as chief in June 2022. “Technology in law enforcement is advancing quickly, but it is only beneficial if it can be easily accessed by officers on the street.
“Officers currently have so many different systems to log into, and it’s difficult to navigate all those systems effectively. FUSUS will integrate all of our current technology on single pane of glass with a single log in.”
Strockis said FUSUS will cost the Village $100,000 in 2023 and $125,000 in 2024 and 2025. “I’ve researched and submitted possible grant funding opportunities to offset the costs,” he said. “There will be nominal costs to community partners that wish to share their video streams on the system.”
Strockis said the FUSUS platform will be open to all businesses and residents that want to either share their camera feeds or register their cameras so that investigators can save time in canvasses when looking for surveillance video in a specific area.
“It’s important to note that this system is 100% configurable to our community partners,” he said. “Businesses and residents can choose to grant access to the Police Department to monitor camera feeds at all times, only exterior cameras, or only at times when there is an emergency at that location.”
Strockis said he already has spoken about FUSUS at a Homeowners Association President’s meeting and will do so again in February.
“I’ve also presented the platform at the last Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce meeting, and we already have strong interest in the community,” he said, adding that FUSUS has a community outreach team that will assist in getting information out to the community.
Strockis said that all village cameras, including those at the golf course, library and Bath & Tennis Club will be live on FUSUS. All cameras at schools and the Oak Brook Park District will be on the platform as soon as next week, he said Monday.
“We will have the ability to put all of our automated license plate reader cameras on FUSUS and are working on a dual stream with those cameras to make them livestreaming cameras as well,” he said.
Strockis feels very good about the assistance FUSUS will give police in helping to keep Oak Brook as safe as possible.
“I spent so many years in our Detective Division, following up on cases and attempting to get video of suspects or vehicles,” he said. “Often times, victims/businesses did not know how to access their surveillance systems or there was such a delay in getting necessary video footage, which then delays the investigation.”
With the FUSUS Virtual Real Time Crime Center, officers responding to an emergency will automatically have the closest five cameras populate on their computer screen, Strockis said. “This is an officer safety benefit as well as a force multiplier to have the ability to see what kind of situation you are responding to before you arrive,” he said. “Officers will have the ability to capture an image of a suspect or vehicle in real time and disseminate that information quickly.”
Along with everything else the system provides, FUSUS also will have a community connect function whereby residents can opt in for SMS messaging to receive alerts directly from the police department on active incidents or other crime-related information that the community should know quickly.
“The applications for the FUSUS platform are vast and configurable to fit the needs of the police department and the community as a whole for years to come,” Strockis said.
Village Manager Greg Summers hasn’t been surprised by Strockis’s lead in bringing FUSUS to Oak Brook.
“When the Village searched for a new Police Chief in 2022, first and foremost on the Police Chief Selection Committee’s criteria list was a proactive Chief focused on implementing new policies and leveraging technology as a force multiplier to keep residents, businesses, and our school’s safe,” Summers said. “Chief Strockis was selected because he embodied these criteria and presented a clear path of technology and procedure in line with the village’s core mission of public safety.”
Chuck Fieldman is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.