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Illinois State Police Combat Highway Shootings with Technology

Below is a statement from the Illinois Police Department

License plate readers lead to identification in over 80% of interstate shootings

SPRINGFIELD – In 82% of interstate shootings this year, Illinois State Police (ISP) automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) helped identify a person involved in or witnessing the shooting. ​In fatal interstate shootings, that number rises to 100%. ​

“The use of automatic license plate readers has transformed the way we solve interstate shootings and vehicle hijackings and thefts,” said ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly. “They provide us with important clues to our investigations and allow us to trace the events immediately before and after the shootings to identify the vehicle involved. The license plate readers are an invaluable tool in helping us identify suspects in violent crimes.”

Using ALPR technology and intelligence, ISP can identify vehicles involved in shootings within minutes. ​The license plate of the vehicle in question can then be entered into the ALPR alert system and officers could potentially locate the vehicle within hours. ​The ALPRs are an important resource that allows ISP to proactively police and adapt to new criminal trends. ​Below are some recent examples where ISP has successfully used ALPRs. ​

  • Special agents investigating a fatal highway shooting identified and interviewed a witness who stated that the driver of a vehicle shot the victim in what appeared to be a DUI incident. Using ALPRs, ISP was able to identify the vehicle and the investigation ultimately led to charges of first-degree murder and unauthorized use of a weapon by a felon.
  • An officer monitoring the ALPRs received a report of a stolen vehicle. The officer attempted to make a traffic stop, and the vehicle sped away. When the vehicle stopped, all of the occupants ran. One person had a rifle in his waistband and was arrested. While searching for another fleeing individual, ISP found two more firearms.
  • ISP received a report of a suspected vehicle theft. ​To identify a suspect, special agents spoke with a witness and after reviewing ALPR images from the time of the suspected vehicle theft, special agents confirmed that the vehicle had not been hijacked, but had been involved in a police chase by another agency and a hit-and-run accident the night of the suspected vehicle theft.
  • ISP responded to a shooting on a highway where the victim was nearly struck in the head by a bullet. ​Deputies entered the victim's registration into the ALPRs and were able to use the ALPR information to identify the vehicle involved in the crash. Several hours later, deputies received an ALPR alert on that vehicle and were able to locate it. ​Deputies initiated a traffic stop and took the driver into custody. They found a loaded firearm in the driver's waistband.
  • An officer monitoring ALPRs received a report of a stolen vehicle. The officer located the vehicle and attempted to make a traffic stop, at which point the vehicle sped away. Ultimately, ISP was able to recover the vehicle, arrest two people, and recover five firearms.

From January 1 to May 31, 2024, ISP took enforcement actions using ALPRs in at least 260 investigations.

Funding and installation of ALPRs is provided through the Tamara Clayton Expressway Camera Act (Expressway Camera Act), which was signed into law on July 12, 2019, and took effect on January 1, 2020.​ On February 4, 2019, Ms. Clayton was on her way to work when she was tragically shot on I-57 near Cicero Avenue.​ ISP investigators responded and the investigation into her death is ongoing.

In February 2021, ISP received a $12.5 million grant to cover engineering, permitting, and labor costs associated with purchasing and installing readers, controllers, servers/software, power, and communications equipment needed to install ALPR systems. ​The images from these cameras will not be used for minor violations such as speeding. ​In 2022, the Tamara Clayton Act was expanded to include an additional $22.5 million for equipment and installation in additional counties.

In 2021, ISP installed approximately 100 ALPRs along I-94. ​ By the end of 2022, 289 ALPRs had been installed in the Chicago area. ​ In 2023, ISP installed 139 more ALPRs in Champaign, Cook, Morgan, and St. Clair counties. ​ ​ In 2024, ISP plans installations in Macon, Madison, Peoria, Bureau, Lake, and Winnebago counties, with potential additional cameras in Boone, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Henry, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, McHenry, Rock Island, Sangamon, and Will counties, and on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

For more information, see the ISP's Automatic License Plate Reader transparency page.

Anna Harden

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