In response to an unusually high number of shootings on Chicago-area expressways this year, Illinois State Police have launched a new program they hope will keep the violence off the interstates.
“Operation Ryan’s Hope,” named after the Dan Ryan Expressway, will bring multiple agencies together to allow for more officers on the roadways, particularly at times when the majority of shootings are taking place.
“We normally have between 15 and 20 troopers on an average shift,” said Illinois State Police Maj. Luis Gutierrez. “In addition, with these details now, that's going to increase our numbers to 30 to 35 troopers for a shift."
Captain Dave Byrd also said the department plans to ramp up other safety procedurs to prevent the shootings.
“Multiple roadside safety checks, and seatbelt checks will be occurring throughout our interstate system,” he said.
The most recent expressway shooting happened during rush hour Monday morning on the Kennedy Expressway. A police investigation shut the roadway down for more than two hours and caused major delays for commuters.
Police said the Monday incident brought the total number of expressway shootings this year to 26, a figure that far surpasses totals from the past two years.
The number of shootings this year has already surpassed the total number of expressway shootings from 2014. Illinois State Police data showed that only 19 shootings were reported in 2014 and 16 were reported in 2013.
From shootings on the Dan Ryan, Eisenhower, Bishop Ford and beyond – police say about two dozen people have been injured in similar incidents since January 2014.
Officials say the shootings typically happen between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m.
Officials have not said whether there is a suspected cause for the rise in expressway shootings, but noted that many appear to be “targeted” or gang-related.
“Our goal is to make our roadways safer and target those individuals who have a total disregard for the laws of this state,” Byrd said.