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License plate cameras in use on Chicago-area highways

August 30, 2021 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — State police have begun installing license plate cameras on Chicago-area expressways to try to solve shootings.

Attacks have been rising, with more than 150 so far this year, easily passing 128 in all of 2020, according to Illinois State Police.

They “are a challenge” to investigate, said Maj. Matt Gainer, investigative commander for the north region of Illinois. “We don’t have people sitting on the porches, we (can’t) ring doorbells, we don’t have neighborhoods that we need to canvas.”

State police plan to install about 300 cameras across all Cook County interstates, said Gainer, adding that the images would be “crystal clear.”

“You have the plate. That’s key,” he said. “That has a lot of value.”

State lawmakers agreed to spend $12.5 million on the cameras after the death of Tamara Clayton, 55, who was killed in 2019 while traveling on Interstate 57 to her Postal Service job.

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Denise Huguelet, 67, a retired teacher, was killed on Aug. 17 while on the Dan Ryan Expressway on her way to a Chicago White Sox game.

“I can’t let the anger crush my soul,” her husband, Michael Huguelet, told the Chicago Tribune.

Clayton’s sister, Alma Hill, said the cameras won’t be “magic.”

“Are they going to invest in the manpower to monitor the cameras? Are they going to dispatch police in real-time to investigate? ... I’d like to see them notify the public about danger in real-time,” Hill said.

State police said they will only keep the information for 90 days if it is not connected to a crime.

“With any of these technologies, whatever efficacy they have for the actual interdiction of crime, they do come with some extra privacy burdens,” said Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.