Highway Shootings Prompt New Bill That Aims To Address Surveillance Shortage On Illinois Highways


CHICAGO (CBS)–Chicago police credit surveillance cameras for the swift arrests made in last weekend’s murder of Chicago police officer John Rivera, but Illinois State Police lack access to the same resources when investigating shootings.

While cameras shed light on what’s happening on Chicago streets, Illinois State Police lack the same technology, making it more difficult to solve crimes.

Change could be on the horizon, however. Illinois legislators next week are considering House Bill 331, the Expressway Safety Act. The proposal aims to increase surveillance technology on Illinois highways.

Video surveillance could have helped solve the murder of postal worker Tamara Shelton Clayton, who was shot in February as she drove to work on I-57.

Clayton’s daughter, Jayla Shelton, is still mourning the loss of her mother. She remembers the last time she talked to her, February 5.

“We were talking about her going to work as usual,” Shelton said. “She was my best friend so we would talk about everything.”

Shelton had no idea the conversation would be their last.

That’s because Clayton was killed in a random shooting as she drove down the interstate.

Just six hours earlier, someone opened fire on a car with four people inside, including two children.

Adding to Jayla’s grief, the killer is still at large.

Clayton’s murder mystery is hardly the only one plaguing Illinois State Police.

CBS 2 discovered only 10 people have been arrested in more than 160 cases of gunfire on Illinois expressways since 2016.

State Rep. Thaddeus Jones is sponsoring the bill, he said, because said there’s a huge hole in the resources available to Illinois State Police.

The state’s 600 highway cameras are only able to livestream video, not capture it.

“Won’t stop the shootings, but hoping to give the Illinois State Police another tool,” Jones said.

“There’s no fiber to record if the Illinois State Police, if there’s a shooting, to go back and record the license plate, any individuals that are in the car,” he said.

IDOT has repeatedly told CBS 2 that video-capable cameras would be “cost prohibitive.”

Aside from equipment upgrades, storage fees for keeping data on file could also add up.

Chicago police have 40,000 pod cameras that not only record, but also have the capability to store images for 15 to 30 days, if necessary.

The 32,000 cameras installed on trains and buses are credited with helping Chicago police make 1,387 arrests, according to the Chicago Transit Authority.

“This bill will allow Illinois State Police to capture people faster,” Jones said.

Jones is proposing IDOT install fiber connections for cameras in Cook County.

That’s where the bulk of expressway violence happens.

“It’s unknown right now what the amount will be,” he said. “It’s estimated between $25 and $70 million dollars.”

In the wake of the loss their loved one, the Shelton family is taking solace in collecting funds online via a GoFundMe page to gather award money for information leading to the arrest of the killer.

The family hopes to use part of the money to buy a billboard that would go up on I-57 and flyers reminding motorists of the safety risk when driving on I-57.

“Everyone is going to continue to live in constant fear because it’s still happening,” Shelton said.

So far, the GoFundMe page has raised $1,950 toward a goal of $10,000.

Source & full article: chicago.cbslocal.com