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

State police say they are expanding their use of license plate reader cameras on expressways by installing them across the suburban area, including Lake and possibly McHenry counties, to help solve crime.

The Illinois State Police (ISP) said on Thursday they are continuing to increase use of technology, which impacts their ability to target and track criminal activity.

Automated license plate readers, known as ALPRs, capture a visual of vehicle license plates.

Anytime a wanted vehicle is detected by an ALPR, an alert is issued and law enforcement are better able to locate and track the vehicle, the ISP said.

ISP installed approximately 100 ALPRs along Interstate 94 in 2021 and had 289 installed by the end of 2022.

Last year, 139 additional cameras were installed, expanding outside of Chicago and Cook County to St. Clair County, Champaign County and Morgan County.

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The state police plan to expand ALPR use in 2024 to Lake, Winnebago, Peoria, Bureau, Madison and Macon counties.

Additional cameras are possible in Boone, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Henry, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, McHenry, Rock Island, Sangamon and Will counties.

The state police say modernization of their agency’s divisions was made in 2023 by implementing a data-focused command structure and creating special operation groups to focus on criminal interdiction to decrease expressway shootings and fatal crashes.

“ISP saw a growing problem in Illinois, used data and first-hand expertise to efficiently address problems, and achieved results—the absolute model of what state government can and should do for its citizens,” Governor JB Pritzker said.

“The decrease in fatal expressway shootings and crashes is an important step on the road to a safer Illinois, and I thank ISP for their innovation and dedication to advancing this work,” Pritzker said.

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ISP said they saw a 32% decrease in expressway shootings from 2022 to 2023 along with a 7% decrease in fatal crashes. The agency reported a 12% increase in guns recovered.

“As an agency, we’ve become more nimble and focused on data, making decisions based on where the greatest threats to public safety emerge, rather than following the same old pattern or habits,” ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly said.

“Over the past several years, we have really demanded more of ourselves, making the tough decisions, executing, and empowering the most effective law enforcement tool there is – the well-trained, professional, crime-fighting trooper. Challenges remain, but we are headed in a good direction,” Kelly said.