File Photo – Illinois State Police | Photo via Chicago Police Department

The Illinois State Police announced they will be more than doubling their patrol presence on Chicago area expressways beginning Friday in an effort to combat a surge in shootings.

The patrol presence will be increased by 157% during “peak criminal activity times” on Chicago area expressways as part of District Chicago’s Safe Drive Detail.

This increased presence will begin in the evening and continue through the overnight hour shifts, Illinois State Police (ISP) said.

There has been a total of 185 reported expressway shootings so far in 2021, compared to 83 at this time last year. There was 128 reported shootings total in 2020.

“For more than 30 years, patrol of Chicago area expressways has been a unique duty of this agency and in that time, we have not previously confronted the concentrated levels of gun violence we have faced in 2020 and 2021,” said ISP Director Brendan Kelly.

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“We are a statewide agency with statewide missions and responsibilities, but we must dedicate the greatest resources to the greatest need, and right now the greatest need is here, on Chicago’s expressways,” Kelly said.

As part of the Safe Drive Detail, the ISP will reallocate officers from around the state to District Chicago to prevent roadway violence and provide ISP Patrol District Chicago maximum staffing in high violence shifts throughout each month.

There will also be additional enforcement and visibility details taking place throughout Chicagoland expressways aimed at reducing violence.

“ISP’s number one priority is and will always be to keep the public safe. ISP officers will continue to proactively patrol Chicagoland expressways with the goal of ensuring public safety and preventing violence,” state police said in a statement.

In August, ISP announced they were installing License Plate Readers (LPRs) on expressways to assist in shooting investigations.

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There are currently more than 100 LPRs on Chicago area expressways from the ISP and their partner agencies, with LPR installations expected to increase in the coming weeks.

Investigating expressway shootings “presents unique challenges,” state police said, adding that Division of Criminal Investigations Zone 1, which includes the Chicago area, will also be allocated additional special agents for investigations.

The ISP said they continue to urge the public to contact them at 847-294-4400 if they witness a shooting or have any information.