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Illinois State Police To Install More Cameras, License Plate Readers To Curb Expressway Shootings

CHICAGO (CBS) – This year there have been 224 shootings on our expressways; a number continuing to rise as Illinois State Police race to get their delayed multimillion dollar camera and license reader network up and running.

CBS 2's Tara Molina has tracked this closely for us for months, and the number of people held accountable for these shootings is low.

We've seen the same scene play out 224 times on the expressways around Chicago, more than twice the past two years combined.

A total of 20 of the 224 shootings deadly -- with people hurt in 101 of them. This is a list of expressway shootings just between Sept. 29 and this past Tuesday:

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But with only 12 arrested and charged this year out of 224 shootings, what's it going to take to hold people accountable and make our roads safer?

The answer from the Illinois State Police has been more patrols, and cameras.

So, where are they?

A spokesperson for Illinois State Police told Molina, so far, about 100 license plate readers have been installed and are operational. But they wouldn't say where those readers are up and running, or if they've helped police track down a shooter yet.

"You know, it's going to require a multi-prong approach, it's video cameras are critical," said Dr. Joe Schwieterman, an expert in transportation and urban planning. "What's discouraging is the apprehension rate is low enough that the deterrence affect isn't there and I think people kind of know that."

That's why he says the camera and license plate reader technology, still being installed, but meant to help track down these shooters, is more important than ever.

State Police say it's their goal to have another 300 license plate readers installed on Cook County expressways in the next year.

The following is a complete list of questions we submitted to Illinois State Police, and their answers:

Q: How many expressway cameras have been installed so far, and how many of them are up and running?"

A: The latest information as follows: Through our partnerships with IDOT, the Illinois Tollway Authority, and the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiative, there are approximately 100 license plate readers installed and operational. Over the next 12 months, the goal is to have an additional 300 license plate readers installed on the Cook County expressway system.

Q: Where are they up and running?

A: Unfortunately, it would not serve the public if we disclosed the locations of the cameras located on the interstate or disclose any investigative techniques on the use of cameras to conduct investigations as that information may impede our investigative efforts.

Q: Have the cameras assisted ISP in any recent incidents/shootings, i.e., directly led to suspect and charges?

A: The ISP investigate all cases and make arrests utilizing a variety of tools and techniques. In order to protect the integrity and investigatory details of the cases we work, we can say that the license plate readers can and will be used as an investigative tool to help ISP special agents obtain evidence necessary for prosecution based, on science and constitutional policing, to solve and deter expressway shootings and other serious crimes.

Q: Have there been more than nine people arrested and charged in these shootings, or is that number the same?

A: Currently in, 2021 there have been 12 arrests related to expressway shootings during 2021.

Q: How many shootings have resulted in a fatality? How many shootings have resulted in an injury?

A: Up to Nov. 23, 2021, there have been a total of 101 reported expressway shootings that involved injuries and there have been a total of 17 reported expressway shootings that involved fatalities. There have been a total of 20 fatalities.

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