Don't like to read?
In addition to the pandemic, there have been spikes in shootings on expressways. Chicago police officers are calling for the installment of better cameras that can also read license plates. While cops are advocating for this, others are concerned about cops potentially violating constitutional rights.
On one hand, officers believe better cameras will allow them to catch culprits quicker. Although there are traffic-monitoring cameras already installed, they are placed along select expressways and are unable to give clear pictures. Usually, these camera’s are unable to make out critical details. Details such as a car shape, model, and color. These details are crucial to identifying suspects.
Officers are not able to rely on witnesses, as they can not identify them on camera. Additionally, witnesses can only be identified as such if they report crimes. The spike in shootings on expressways is believed to be related to Coronavirus restrictions. These restrictions allow for less traffic, thus fewer witnesses. So the culprits are getting away with crimes.
In addition to the installation of the new cameras, officers are calling for them to be specifically installed along the Dan Ryan Expressway. And for them to use license plate reading technology. This is ultimately left up to state officials.
Distrust Between CPD And Residents
While, in theory, this may seem like a great idea, some are concerned that officers will use this to their benefit. This comes amid multiple cases of police brutality. Considering the growing amount of distrust between officers and communities, upgrading the cameras could elicit backlash from the community. In order to support the idea, CPD is citing an unsolved 2019 murder.
The incident that the officers are citing is the murder of a former U.S. Postal Service employee, Tamara Clayton. She was shot and killed while driving to work, according to the Chicago Tribune. They have also cited the four people who were shot this past Saturday while traveling on the Dan Ryan.
The police contend the murder remains unsolved due to the lack of surveillance. Clayton’s family is unable to receive closure. Even Clayton’s sister, Alma Hill stated that she thinks better surveillance would have led to an arrest. According to the Chicago Tribune, Hill was told cameras would be installed by the end of May. However, she has not received updates from state officials since January.
Skepticism Toward Officers
On the other hand, some civil rights advocates fear officers will misuse the data. Officials say this is a crucial question to be asked, though it should not be a question at all. Additionally, studies have shown that improved surveillance does not end crime, but simply moves it from one area to another area.
In the effort to slow the spike in gun violence, both officers and residents in Chicago want to find the safest solution. Unfortunately, more surveillance cameras may not be the answer. However, both state officers and CPD want to improve surveillance in order to crack down on crime in the city. By doing so, tensions could ignite and cause further distrust.
Whatever the decision is, it should be in the best interest of residents and officers. Rather than to the benefit of only the officers, in order to avoid further fostering distrust.
Written by Reginae Echols
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Chicago Tribune: Expressway shootings surge in Chicago area. Illinois State Police say they need license plate scanners, despite privacy concerns.
WGN9: Illinois State Police call for license plate scanners amid rise in expressway shootings
Chicago Sun-Times: 4 hurt in 3 separate expressway shootings
Inline Image Courtesy of Conal Gallagher’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy Teresa Grau Ros’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License