400 cameras coming to Detroit freeways to reduce violent crimes

Freeways in Detroit will soon be monitored by a network of 400 cameras with the goal of helping Detroit police investigate violent crimes and highway shootings.

The city council voted to approve a $30 million grant from the state to install and maintain a Freeway Video Feed System Grant, which will operate on 68 miles of highways in Detroit.

The highways that will be monitored include I-94, I-96, I-75, M-10, and M-8. 

In proposing the network of cameras, the city of Detroit argued they would assist officers in investigating crime on the freeways, where over 50 shootings have taken place on average over the past three years. 

The rate of freeway shootings is up three times what it was before the pandemic, and investigating them "poses unique challenges", the city said in its grant. Between 60 - 70% of cases don't result in a known suspect. They happen at high rates of speed, which makes identifying witnesses and suspects difficult. 

Recovering evidence and getting accurate driver descriptions are also issues. 

A $30 million grant from the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity will deter and solve violent crimes, the city said. The money will be used to "develop, construct, manage, and operate a freeway video feed system…" an overview of the proposal said.

The cameras will be placed at 200 locations with two cameras installed in each spot. There will also be a network of license plate readers that capture plate and vehicle information, such as automated alerts for wanted vehicles. 

The plan is for those cameras to focus on strategic locations around the city's freeways, like interchanges, city limits, and exit and entrance ramps. They're expected to be up and running by late 2025.


City council approves 100 license plate readers at 25 Detroit intersections

The license plate readers will be used by the Detroit Police Department in violent crimes investigations like homicides and auto thefts. It will not be used for traffic enforcement.

The system won't use facial recognition technology and won't be used for traffic violations or other civil laws. No private area will be visible in the cameras' field of view.

This isn't the only infusion of money for cameras in the city. The council previously approved 100 license plate readers at 25 Detroit intersections. 

A previous version of this story cited the Detroit Police Department for arguing for the video technology. The city of Detroit made the case for the grant.