Row upon row of brand-new squad cars sit in a parking lot not far from the state fairgrounds in Springfield, waiting to be driven out onto state highways. Waiting. And waiting.
The cars, 85 model year 2013 Chevrolet Caprices that were delivered last summer, have never been used because they lack the police lights, two-way radios, computers and other electronics to be ready for patrol with the Illinois State Police.
Since 2010, the cost of renewing a license plate in Illinois has included a $1 fee that goes into a fund for new state police squad cars. So far, the fee has generated more than $18 million for new vehicles.
While they have the cars, state officials have not yet figured out how to get the electronics installed, offering explanations that varied from the budget crisis to an inability to find workers in the state with the skills to do the job.
Aging squad cars are a problem for the troopers who drive them and the motorists who count on them to swiftly respond to emergencies. And older cars are a drain on the state police budget because they are less fuel-efficient and often need costly repairs.
Read the full Chicago Tribune story here.