There have been 106 shootings on Detroit-area freeways in 19 months, a phenomenon longtime law enforcement officials call unprecedented, The Detroit News reports.
The shootings are on the rise along with shootings and homicides nationwide, but are also in part driven by a growing surveillance network on Detroit's surface streets, officials say.
Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw says the agency learned through interviews and intelligence that Project Green Light surveillance in some cases pushed criminals to settle their beefs on freeways.
The public-private Detroit camera network has more than 700 business partners. Police also have access to hundreds more traffic light cameras installed since 2019.
Shaw notes the shootings, concentrated in Detroit, put innocent people at risk. In June, 2-year-old Brison Christian was killed after his father's car was targeted in what investigators believe was a case of mistaken identity.
"If someone gets shot at Mack and Bewick (a high-crime area on Detroit's east side), not as many people care," Shaw said. "People can choose to avoid the bad neighborhoods, but everyone has to drive on the freeway."
More police on freeways in response to Brison's killing did not have an impact on the overall number of shootings, The News reports. That has Detroit Police Chief James White now advocating for law enforcement surveillance cameras on freeways, even though a 2021 academic review of Project Green Light found the surveillance program's effects "limited" and hard to quantify.
Of the freeway cases where a motive was established, equal parts were blamed on on road rage and retaliation for earlier violence.