CHICAGO (CBS) — A total of $12 million is now being spent to buy camera software to help solve the rash of expressway shootings in the Chicago area.
CBS 2 has been reporting on cars being fired upon on expressways for years. And as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, the big announcement about the camera software loses a lot of its momentum when one considers the law to install highway cameras with recording capabilities was passed in July 2019 and went into effect 13 months ago.READ MORE: 1 Dead, 2 Injured In I-57 Expressway Shooting Near 119th Street
And even though funding is now secured, there is still no real timetable on when all will be up and running.
On Wednesday morning, there was yet another expressway shooting – this time on the Bishop Ford Freeway in the south suburbs. One man was killed and another was injured when the occupants of two cars fired at each other.
Catching the killer might soon become easier with the approval of $12.5 million to install and run camera software to help Illinois State Police track suspects and their cars.
“So now, we’re going to have the license plate readers. We’re going to have the technology to go after them and catch them,” said Illinois state Rep. Thaddeus Jones (D-South Holland), “and they should get the message that we’re serious about this, and we can’t stand for this anymore.”
Rep. Jones was the co-sponsor of the camera bill, named after expressway shooting victim and U.S. Postal worker Tamara Clayton. In February 2019, Clayton, 55, was the victim of a random shooting on Interstate 57.
Jones said the holdup could be blamed on bureaucracy and funding. It took 19 months to get the funding secured, to the dismay of Jones and bill co-sponsor state Sen. Jacqui Collins (D-Chicago).
“It was frustrating for me when I didn’t see anything take place all of last year,” Collins said.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Temperatures Climbing; Sunny Skies Ahead
But that yearlong hold-up arguably cost cases. There were 128 expressway shootings in 2020, and so far this year, there have been 21.
So could this be too little, too late for the 149 shootings that have taken place since Jan. 1, 2020?
“That can be a statement, but what I can also say to counter that is that we are here, we are starting, and the cameras will be effective,” Rep. Jones said.
While cameras already existed along Chicago’s expressways, they didn’t record – rendering them almost useless. They were also the focus of prior stories by CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory.
Jones said 20 percent of the cameras in this program are already up and running.
As to when the other 80 percent will be capable of recording, no one can say for sure.
“I wish I could give you a timeline. To be honest with you, I can’t. We’re going to get these up as soon as possible. I think everybody has seen the urgency and the need for them,” said Illinois State Police Col. David Byrd. “So we’re not dragging our feet here. As soon as possible, they will be up.”
That Illinois Department of Transportation funding covers license plate readers and such at 47 locations. Jones said those locations will not be disclosed for security reasons.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Weekend Warmup
Police will also be limited in how evidence from the cameras can be used. Currently, there is a very strict limit under which they can only use it in shooting cases.