More Undercover Cops Added to Taste

Supt. McCarthy announced more plainclothes officers and video surveillance at this year's Taste of Chicago

By Rosie Powers
|  Tuesday, Jun 21, 2011  |  Updated 5:06 PM CDT
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Taste of Chicago is having a pretty rough year. 

Former Mayor Richard Daley tried privatizing the food festival and eventually gave it to the Chicago Park District, which kept admission free but scaled back on music acts and handed off the annual fireworks to Navy Pier.

Now, as Taste of Chicago kicks off another year of eats on Friday, concerns are being raised about festival safety following recent robberies along the lakefront.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and the Office of Emergency Management announced Tuesday plans
to put more undercover officers in Grant Park and around Taste of Chicago. McCarthy also wants stricter entry into the festival.

"We're using virtually the same number of officers," McCarthy said. "At the same time we're going to have a deployment of plainclothes officers throughout the crowd."

Video surveillance will be increased to help "multiply" the force, and undercover officers will be stationed at "choke points" at train stations, McCarthy said.

On Memorial Day, North Avenue Beach was closed for high heat, though some say it was because of gangs. On June 7, seven people were arrested for mob action after a group of young men attacked and beat a man on Northwestern University’s Streeterville campus Saturday night.

Since then, several mob attacks were reported in Streeterville and along the lakefront.

Chicago Police want to keep that a bay during the fest.

"The citizens of Chicago who come to visit [Taste], guests that come to visit, are going to be the benefactor of a team that understands what interdependence is," said Officer Matt Tobias. "For months we have been working, and there are years of experience in this team."

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