CHICAGO (CBS) — Gunmen taking aim at drivers and passengers is a growing problem in Chicago. In the latest incident Monday morning on the Eisenhower Expressway near Damen Avenue, two people were shot and another killed.

In 2021 alone, there have already been 62 expressway shootings across Illinois. Now the state is dragging its feet when it comes to a possible solution.

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For more than a year, CBS 2 has told viewers about plans to install cameras along expressways to help catch gunmen. With a law passed in 2019 it was expected that the cameras would be installed, but they have not.

In Wisconsin cameras have been rolling on crimes for 15 years.

There are 600 cameras along Illinois expressways, but none of them record video. The Tamara Clayton Expressway Camera Act is supposed to change that. It was signed into law in 2019. It was named for a postal worker killed during a random shooting on Interstate 57 while on her way to work.

The act requires expressway cameras to record video and that the number of cameras will be increased along the expressways in Cook County.

Illinois State Police say the Illinois Department of Transportation finished installing the infrastructure last spring, but after doing research, ISP learned they need more detailed and focused images in their investigations. So the technology needed has yet to be installed. Right now in Illinois, there is no video recording of incidents like Monday morning’s shooting on the Eisenhower, which left one person dead.

In neighboring Wisconsin, the highway system has about 450 traffic cameras that do record video. Last year 85% of the video requests from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation were from law enforcement.

“These cameras just provide a wealth of information to us, and we’re happy to share that with the motoring public,” said WISDOT spokesman Jon Riemann. “We’re happy to be able to share that with somebody who may have been involved in the crash, and we’re happy to be able to share that with law enforcement if they have a need for an investigation.”

Riemann says snapshots of live footage can be viewed by the public on the WISDOT website.  Video is also stored on local and remote servers for 72 hours. It can also be archived if there is a request. 

“If we’re notified by a private individual because they were involved in an incident, or law enforcement, something going on, we can then archive that video, and we’ll save it for 120 days to make sure that we have it and get it to everybody who might need it over the course of an investigation,” Riemann said.

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The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office has requested footage from WISDOT in the past. The video has helped identify suspects, vehicle makes and models and even license plates. In road rage incidents, firearms being pointed out of vehicles when a shooting happens have also been captured on video.

Wisconsin spends $50,000 each year on the camera controller software and $45,000 on the distribution of videos to media and others. Last year the state spent $500,000 on maintaining the cameras along the expressways.

Late Monday, Illinois State Police provided Le Mignot a breakdown of where its plans stand in the camera installation project. State Police said a live and open procurement is now in progress, and they are “researching the needs of the project and the best technical approach to acquire the necessary equipment to fulfill those needs.”

The plan is for automated license plate readers with special cameras to be installed at about 47 locations. The cameras will be placed throughout Chicago area expressways, but state police would not say specifically where they would be placed for security reasons.

“We continue to work deliberate expediency to complete the project successfully,” state police said. “The cameras that will be purchased or upgraded from the grant have not been procured or installed at this time.”

While a bidding process is under way, state police said the completion of the project has not been delayed by a need to order new cameras with mor detailed images.

“The ISP is ensuring the proper equipment to aid in investigations is acquired and installed,” state police said.

State Police also reminded all drivers to remain vigilant and drive responsibly – in particular when approaching an emergency vehicle with its lights activated. This includes IDOT help trucks and tow trucks.

The law requires drovers to move over and slow down if changing lanes is unsafe.

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State Police also urged drivers to check for roadway conditions before traveling.

Suzanne Le Mignot