DOWNTOWN – More license plate tracking technology is coming to DuSable Lake Shore Drive in a bid to crack down on shootings and carjackings.
Governor JB Pritzker signed the Illinois Expressway Camera Act on Friday, giving the city authority to install more automated license plate readers on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, adding to dozens of license plate readers automated machines that the Illinois State Police already have on Chicago’s freeways.
There are already speed cameras and license plate cameras where DuSable Lake Shore Drive intersects with town streets, Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said in his parish bulletin. But because state roads like DuSable Lake Shore Drive are under Illinois State Patrol jurisdiction, the city couldn’t expand its current network of surveillance cameras. Now it is possible, he says.
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Hopkins said the added cameras would be a big help for the Chicago Police Department, which is “about 2,000 officers short.”
“Even if we wanted to hire 2,000 officers tomorrow, logistically we couldn’t do it,” Hopkins said. “But we can deploy cameras fast enough to be their eyes and ears. They do not replace human beings, but supplement the existing patrol force.
The cameras will use digital license plate reading technology to help investigate vehicle hijacking, aggravated hijacking, terrorism, motor vehicle theft, or any forcible crime, including but not limited to limited thereto, offenses involving the use of a firearm, in accordance with the law.
So far this year through June 2, there have been 69 shootings on Cook County highways, resulting in 32 injuries and one death, according to Pritzker’s office. There have been 90 highway shootings with 45 people injured and eight killed so far in 2021.
“There is nothing more important than keeping Illinois safe – in our schools, in our parks and on our highways,” Pritzker said in a statement. “The tragic impacts of gun violence on our highways require aggressive and intentional action.”
The Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Transportation, and Chicago Department of Transportation announced plans for freeway license plate readers in October 2021, bringing the cameras to the Dan Ryan . State leaders have touted the technology to help police arrest several people accused of shooting along highways.
About 150 cameras have been installed so far and another 150 are planned, covering the Dan Ryans, Kennedys, Eisenhowers, Stevensons and Interstate 57, Pritzker said.
Hopkins hopes the new cameras will also help crack down on illegal motorcycle racing along Lake Shore Drive, which he says is a big problem during the summer months.
“If we start to better enforce existing laws, we’ll send the message that Chicago is not a place to come and engage in illegal freeway racing,” Hopkins said.
The law requires that details about the goals of the new camera program, the counties where the program operates and its policies be made public and posted online within 90 days.
Hopkins said the cameras could be operational this summer.
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