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State Lawmakers Push Measure To Upgrade Expressway Cameras So They Can Record Footage

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With 14 shootings on Chicago are expressways already this year, some state lawmakers have proposed legislation to give Illinois State Police a crucial tool in solving violent crime.

While the state has approximately 600 cameras on Illinois expressways, they are only able to livestream video, not capture it.

A proposal from Illinois State Reps. Thaddeus Jones and La Shawn Ford would require the Illinois Department of Transportation to install fiber connections for every camera in Cook County, allowing those cameras to record footage.

"There's no fiber to record … if there's a shooting, to go back and record the license plate, any individuals that are in the car," Jones said. "This bill will allow Illinois State Police to capture people faster."

Community activist Andrew Holmes and Jayla Shelton, whose mother was shot and killed on Interstate 57 in February, will be in Springfield on Wednesday to lobby lawmakers to approve the Expressway Safety Act.

Shelton is still mourning the loss of her mother, Tamara Shelton Clayton. She remembers the last time she talked to her, February 5.

"We were talking about her going to work as usual," Shelton said. "She was my best friend so we would talk about everything."

Shelton had no idea the conversation would be their last.

That's because Clayton was killed in a random shooting as she drove down I-57 near Oak Forest.

Adding to Shelton's grief, her mother's killer is still at large. Video surveillance could have helped Illinois State Police solve the fatal shooting. Chicago police have 40,000 pod cameras that not only record, but also have the capability to store images for 15 to 30 days, if necessary.

The 32,000 cameras installed on CTA trains and buses are credited with helping Chicago police make 1,387 arrests, according to the Chicago Transit Authority.

Clayton said she wants to help "start a movement to really get those readable and recordable cameras on all Illinois expressways, not just I-57, so that it can be a major deterrent for anyone else who's thinking about doing something like this."

She noted there are already cameras all over the state to record when drivers run a red light, speed, or fail to pay tolls; so it only makes sense to give police the ability to record video when there's a shooting on an expressway.

"There is nothing there to prevent someone from harming you, and if they do harm you, to catch them," she said. "The Illinois State Police pretty much have their hands tied right now."

Clayton's murder mystery is hardly the only one plaguing Illinois State Police.

CBS 2 discovered only 10 people have been arrested in more than 160 cases of gunfire on Illinois expressways since 2016.

IDOT has repeatedly told CBS 2 that video-capable cameras on expressways would be "cost prohibitive."

Aside from equipment upgrades, storage fees for keeping data on file could also add up.

Jones said it would cost $25 million to $70 million to upgrade the cameras on Illinois expressways.

The Expressway Safety Act is scheduled for a second reading on Wednesday in the Illinois House. That means it could come up for a final House vote on Thursday. From there, it would move to the Illinois Senate.

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