File Photo | Photo via Chicago Police Department

Nearly five dozen automated license plate reading cameras are being installed to supplement the current 99 cameras that assist in shooting investigations on Chicago area expressways, state police announced.

The Illinois State Police (ISP), in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), announced on Wednesday that 56 additional license plate reading cameras are being installed.

99 license plate readers are already covering the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The new license plate readers are being installed on interstates 90, 290, 55 and 57, and they are estimated to be installed by mid-May, state police said.

In the first phase, license plate readers were installed on the Dan Ryan Expressway in the summer and fall of last year.

The second phase of cameras is being installed now, and state police are working on permits to meet the target goal of 300 total license plate readers in the third phase by the end of June.

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State police said the images from these cameras are not used for petty offenses, such as speeding.

In February 2021, the ISP received a $12.5 million grant for the purchase of specialized cameras to read the license plate numbers of vehicles moving in traffic.

Funding for the cameras stems from the Tamara Clayton Expressway Camera Act, also known as the Expressway Camera Act, which was signed into law on July 12, 2019, and became effective on January 1, 2020.

Clayton was on her way to work on February 4, 2019, when she was shot and killed while driving on Interstate 57 near Cicero Avenue in Chicago. ISP investigators responded and the investigation into her death remains open and ongoing.

In 2019, there were 52 expressway shootings in the Chicago area. That number jumped to 128 in 2020 and 264 in 2021.

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As of last week, 51 shootings on expressways in the Chicago area have been reported this year.

26 of those shootings resulted in injuries, but no fatalities, state police said.

During the same time period last year, a total of 66 expressway shootings were reported, seven of which resulted in fatalities.

“The automated license plate reader is another tool to assist ISP patrol and investigations solve crimes and make Chicago area expressways safer for motorists,” ISP Director Brenden Kelly said.

“Since their installation, automated license plate readers have been instrumental in ISP investigations and arrests in Cook County. By expanding their use to all Chicagoland expressways, ISP will be able to catch more criminals and make our interstates safer,” Kelly added.

“My administration is bringing over 150 automated license plate readers to Chicagoland expressways ahead of the summer, another step to enhance public safety for residents of and visitors to the nation’s third largest city,” Governor J.B. Pritzker said.

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“As the connections between communities, our roadways should be safe for every driver. The Illinois State Police will continue to work with Chicago officials – and their counterparts in municipalities around the state – to strengthen protections and accountability measures alike,” Pritzker said.