Following a dramatic uptick in the number of shootings on Chicago-area interstates, the Illinois State Police began installing license plate cameras on expressways within the city this week, the agency said in a news release.
In February, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced a $12.5 million grant that would allow for the installation of license plate reader cameras in dozens of locations to collect evidence needed “to detect and deter crime," according to a news release.
The installations include a communication system to backhaul the video images to a central location. There, additional software will be used to match license plates to existing license plate and vehicle databases, police explained.
“This investment in expressway cameras further strengthens the Illinois State Police’s ability to hold violent offenders accountable and fulfill our mission to help all Illinois residents live safely,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a news release. "Our roadways should be connections between communities, not crime scenes..."
In 2020, Pritzker signed the Tamara Clayton Expressway Camera Act, which required the state to install new cameras on expressways. Current expressway cameras are low-definition and don’t record video. The act was named for a postal worker who was shot and killed on her way to work on Interstate 57 in 2019.
As of Thursday, there were 157 reported shootings on Chicago-area expressways in 2021, according to law enforcement. In all of 2020, a total of 128 shootings occurred on local expressways, compared to 52 a year earlier.
More than 200 license plate cameras will be installed throughout the area over the next year. State police say the cameras will not be used for minor traffic offenses such as speeding.