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A Month After Governor Signed Law To Upgrade Expressway Cameras, Wait Continues For New Equipment

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Legislation to help Illinois State Police catch expressway shooters was signed by the governor last month, so why aren't upgrades to the state's cameras in place yet?

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us inside the holdup on the Illinois expressway cameras project.

Tamara Clayton is looking down from above, literally. For three weeks, her smiling face will tower over Interstate 57, where she was killed by a random bullet on the way to work in February.

As the plea to catch her killer rotates digitally on an electronic billboard above I-57, another question circles: Where is the new surveillance camera equipment the state promised in her name?

"I wanted them up yesterday," said state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, who sponsored the expressway camera legislation.

The state has more than 600 cameras that currently live-stream video of traffic conditions on the expressways, but they can't record footage, so police can't use them to get images of shooters or their vehicles.

More than a month after Jones' legislation requiring those cameras to be upgraded to be able to record footage became law, nothing new has been installed, no one has been hired for the project, and the Illinois Department of Transportation hasn't even put the project out to bid yet.

During the time since the Expressway Safety Act became law, there have been at least two shootings on Chicago area expressways.

"We do need that video surveillance at all times, and we need it recorded so our investigators can go back and rewind and look at footage from where they were coming from, what exit they got onto, or where did they exit from," Illinois State Police Lt. Col. David Byrd said. "There's so many other logistical issues that have to be considered."

Those issues include sufficient power sources and identifying where the new cameras will go.

Rather than upgrade existing cameras with recording equipment, the state plans to purchase brand new cameras. However, State Police and IDOT declined to provide a timeline for when the first new cameras will be in place.

At $15,000 a pop, Byrd said the 60 or so recording devices needed to be placed in locations that are both tactical for police and feasible for IDOT.

As both IDOT and Illinois State Police work on the strategy phase, Clayton's family is forced to put faith in the more old school search for evidence.

"The most important thing is the noise level because someone knows something," said Clayton's sister, Alma Hill.

Without cameras capable of recording, Illinois State Police have been able to make only 12 arrests in 183 highway shootings since 2016; a 6.5% clearance rate.

IDOT and Illinois State Police aren't technically behind schedule on the project. The deadline is Jan. 1, 2020, to have the new cameras in place.

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