Illinois police combat crime through the air

Midwest

CHICAGO (NewsNation) — As carjackings spike nationwide, Illinois State Police are taking to the skies to track down criminals.

ISP credits its air operations teams, along with the deployment of license plate readers and extra officers, with helping bring down the number of highway shootings. There have been 136 shootings on Illinois expressways so far this year, down 53 from the same time last year.

ISP Sgt. Greg Wilson and his partner in the sky, Trooper Robert Lyons, are the ultimate backup as their colleagues on the ground chase increasingly bold suspects.

They fly daily in a cramped, unassuming Cessna airplane equipped with an infrared camera, recording equipment and police radios that compete with air traffic control for attention. Carjackers and expressway shooters command most of their attention these days.

They can quickly join in pursuit or stay with a suspect vehicle long after officers on the ground may have deemed a chase too dangerous.

NewsNation affiliate WGN contributed to this report.

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