CHICAGO — In a response to the number of highway shootings in the Chicago area, the Illinois State Police last week began installing license plate readers on local expressways, officials said.
The ISP received a $12.5 million grant to buy sophisticated cameras capable of reading plates on moving vehicles, the agency said in a news release. The money also will include technology to transmit the images to a central location and to identify vehicle owners using existing databases.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Tamara Clayton Expressway Camera Act on July 12, 2019, and it went info effect Jan. 1, 2020. Clayton was on her way to work on Feb. 4, 2019, when she was shot and killed on Interstate 57 near Cicero Avenue. The investigation into her death remains open.
"This investment in expressway cameras further strengthens the Illinois State Police's ability to hold violent offenders accountable and fulfill our obligation to help all Illinois residents live safely," Pritzker said in the release. "Our roadways should be connections between communities, and not crime scenes, and the ISP will offer the additional support necessary to local law enforcement in Chicago to protect traveling residents."
The ISP said, as of Thursday, there had been 157 reported shootings this year on Chicago area expressways.
Calumet City Mayor and Democratic State Rep. Thaddeus Jones hailed the move.
"Thank you, Governor Pritzker, for providing comfort and confidence to the victims of expressway shootings," Jones said in the release. "I empathize with the family of Tamara Clayton, his sister Alma Hill, and other family members for enduring the time it took to erect these cameras."
More than 200 cameras are scheduled to be installed by ISP in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation and Chicago Department of Transportation. ISP said they will not be used to enforce speed limits.
"Increasingly, we've seen shootings throughout the Chicagoland expressways, and I am glad that we will now have the access to technology that will aid in the investigation of expressway shootings," State Sen. Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) said in the release. "With these innovations, I hope many crimes are solved and brought to justice, so that the victims' families may know peace."