Illinois State Police said Thursday they would increase patrolling presence during “peak periods of criminal activity” on Chicago area freeways after area saw more than double the number of highway shootings this year compared to last year.
The Chicago area has seen a total of 185 highway shootings so far this year on Thursday, according to the ISP.
Authorities said a shooting Tuesday night on the Stevenson Freeway near Wentworth left two dead. Since then, there have been three more – one on I-290 and two on I-94 – in less than three hours from Wednesday night to Thursday morning, per FAI.
The total of 185 highway shootings so far this year is more than double the 83 the region saw on the same date last year, and a 45% increase from the 128 shootings the region saw in 2020.
At least 85 people have been injured in highway shootings so far this year, and 16 have been killed, officials said.
The full list of highway shootings across the Chicago area so far this year, including dates, times and locations, is as follows:
The ISP announced Thursday that starting Friday, the department will increase its “preventive patrol presence” by 157% in the evening and overnight.
“For over 30 years patrolling the Chicago area freeways has been a unique duty of this agency and during that time we have never faced the concentrated levels of gun violence we faced in 2020 and 2021, “ISP Director Brendan Kelly said. in a report.
“We are a state-wide agency with state-wide missions and responsibilities, but we have to devote the greatest resources to the greatest need, and right now the greatest need is here on the Chicago freeways, ”Kelly continued.
Last month, ISP also began the process of installing more than 200 number plate cameras on highways. This process is expected to take about a year and is funded by a grant of $ 12.5 million.
The cameras include a communications system to send images to a central location where software can be used to find and match the plates in existing databases, officials said.
This is an important tool because, as officials said last month, these shootings can often be extremely difficult to resolve.
“You know, we don’t have a neighborhood per se – we can’t knock on doors asking people what they saw or heard,” said Major Matthew Gainer.
Gainer also said that a “very small percentage” of highway shootings in the Chicago area are cases of road rage.
“You know, it’s targeted opportunity violence, where someone has a problem with someone else, and they run into them, and that’s on the highway,” he said. he declares.