CHICAGO – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner will propose that the state pay to add hundreds of state troopers to combat the growing number of shooting incidents on Chicago area expressways.
Rauner's office confirmed a Chicago Sun-Times report that during his Wednesday budget speech he will push for funding for 200 more state police cadets over the next two years.
During his State of the State address last month, Rauner suggested that he would make such a move, saying, "We're committed to hiring more State Police officers to help patrol Chicago expressways, and other high violence areas."
Unclear is the cost of the new troopers and how the state, in the midst of a budget crisis, can find the money to pay for the new state troopers. Rauner's office would not elaborate. Chicago police said the department had not been told that more troopers might be coming to the area, and the Illinois State Police declined to comment on Tuesday.
Concerns about the safety of Chicago's expressways are part of a rise in gun violence in the city. There were more than 760 homicides and more than 3,500 shooting incidents, according to police department statistics.
The problem has caught the attention of the White House, where President Donald Trump has vowed to "send in the Feds" if the city's violence problems didn't improve.
Those homicide and shooting totals, which were dramatically higher than those 2015, do not include shooting incidents on the expressways because those roads are patrolled by the state police and not the city's police department. But state troopers were seeing a similar trend on the expressways, though on a much smaller scale.
Worried that Chicago's gun violence was spilling onto the expressways, state police announced before Memorial Day weekend last year that the agency would flood the expressways with more troopers and dispatch planes overhead spot any gun violence.
The shootings continued and by the end of 2016, there were 51 shootings on area expressways, compared to 37 in 2015.
That prompted the Chicago Crime Commission to ask in a news release that state and federal officials to find the money to purchase a high-tech "expressway video surveillance system." The commission welcomed the governor's proposal.
"An expressway video surveillance system would be designed to assist law enforcement in identifying and apprehending those responsible for the epidemic of shootings occurring on area expressways," J.R. Davis, the chairman and president of the commission, said in a statement.