With expressway shootings in the Chicago area at an all-time high, the Illinois State Police have begun installing hundreds of plate-reading cameras on roadways throughout the Chicago area. The deployment process is expected to take about a year, and will include 300 of the devices, at a cost of $12.5 million.
"It's an HD quality picture that is produced for the investigators or troopers, and it's immediately readable," Major Matthew Gainer told NBC 5. "These cameras are rated to capture license plates traveling up to 150 miles an hour."
As of Thursday, 159 shootings had been recorded on Chicago-area expressways this year, more than double the total on this same date in 2020. Investigators say the crimes can be difficult to solve, because there are few witnesses and would-be victims rarely cooperate.
"A very small percentage would be considered road-rage," Gainer said. "We find these to be targeted shootings from differences in gang-related confrontations, or ongoing feuds that start off the interstate, and follow them onto the interstate."
Because of that, Gainer said the victims frequently know their attackers.
"It's targeted violence of opportunity where somebody has a beef with somebody else, and then they happen upon them, and it happens to be on the interstate," he said.
Gainer said the plate-readers will be an invaluable tool, and will initially be deployed near entrance and exit ramps on all Chicago-area expressways. The goal, he said, was not only to help solve shootings after they happen, but to let would-be perpetrators know that they likely will be seen and recorded.
"You travel the interstate -- I travel the interstate -- so does my family and friends," he said. "So obviously, this is a nightmare scenario, because there's a very defined good and evil that we're dealing with."