May 17, 2022

Botu Linum

The Car & Automotive Devotees

License plate reader alert led to CPD shootout, carjacking arrests in Loop

2 min read

CHICAGO — Video obtained by WGN News shows the dramatic moments before Chicago police say they stopped a carjacked vehicle on Lower Wacker Drive, then engaged in a shootout, leading to the arrest of three carjacking suspects. 

According to Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward), who represents downtown Chicago, the vehicle had been carjacked early Wednesday in Rogers Park and was later spotted that night by a license plate reader camera.

“This camera picked up a carjacked vehicle plate – this car that drove by. So, the decision-making room activated the camera, saw the car, and dispatched a squad,” Reilly told WGN Radio.  

Reilly was the first alderman to use the so-called aldermanic menu money –  a $1.3 million budget at his discretion – to purchase license plate reader cameras, which he says can be mounted on police squad cars or at street locations.   

Reilly placed several around the Loop. As a result, the cameras scan and process every license plate. When they discover one from a stolen vehicle, officers in the police strategic decision support centers alert cops, who are then dispatched to the location, which happened Wednesday night on Lower Wacker Drive.

“Luckily, there was light traffic at the time, so the car was stuck at a light and kind of boxed in, and a squad rolled up, and the officers jumped out at the red light to go up to the car, and as it was described to me overnight from CPD, the officers returned fire,” Reilly said. “They did not initiate gunfire. They returned it.”  

In Wednesday night’s incident, a 25-year-old man was shot by police – hit in the leg and chest and then grazed on the head. He was treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and is in stable condition. Two others in the vehicle were arrested and police recovered two illegal guns.  

No officers were injured, though one was taken to Rush University Medical Center with shortness of breath.   

But Reilly says the car and criminals would still be out there if not for the cameras.

“According to our local commanders, these are invaluable,” Reilly said. “They don’t just look for carjacked vehicles. They look for stolen vehicles – folks with felony warrants, you name it. It really does help add more eyes to the street for our officers and the beauty of these cameras is that they tie right into the local police district. So, there are live eyes looking at these cameras when they’re activated.”  

While Reilley calls the license plate readers an ‘effective crime-fighting tool,’ groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have raised questions about how the cameras invade privacy.   

License plate reader alert led to CPD shootout, carjacking arrests in Loop