Update on Freeport Public Safety Plan

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FREEPORT (WIFR) – It’s been two months since Freeport announced details of its new public safety plan, so we decided to check in to see what sorts of improvements the city is making.

Bashar Alsahmi puts on a smile at a gas station on South Galena Avenue in Freeport, but goig to work isn’t always easy. This is where his cousin and former employee was shot and killed during a robbery.

“When I be in the store, I remember him, you know,” Alsahmi said.

After the murder at the Shell gas station back in May, the owner installed 12 more cameras all over the inside and outside. That’s because the older camera system is blurry, which could make solving a crime difficult.

In fact, Police haven’t caught a suspect in this murder, which is part of the reason Freeport Mayor Jim Gitz is backing a plan that would require all tobacco and convenience stores to have functioning cameras.

“We want to make sure there’s a record. We believe that protects both the owner and the patron, it protects everyone. We think it’s really important that those surveillance cameras are clear, functional, and up to date,” said Mayor Gitz.

The measure also requires shops to be licensed.

“When you have a restaurant or a bar, you have a liquor license and if you transgress ordinances and you’re selling liquor to minors you can lose your license. There’s no accountability for tobacco products or other activities that take place on premises.”
Alsahmi doesn’t believe a piece of paper will stop illegal activity.

“They have to go to each store to inspect the store, not just give me a piece of paper to hang on the wall, that will not fix the problem.”

Licenses could hold shops accountable for selling tobacco to minors, code violations, or selling counterfeit goods. Back in April several stores were busted in Freeport for such things. The city council will get a first reading of this plan on Monday.

The council has already passed a plan on city curfew and skipping school. About 300 minors have been ticketed for these things over the last three years. It now holds the parents accountable as well.

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