After a spike in thefts in the area, two armed security guards are now patrolling one of Chicago’s busiest shopping corridors.
On Thursday, the guards began patrolling State Street in downtown Chicago, and they spent their first day getting to know the community that they are now helping to secure.
“We’re keeping everybody safe and being a deterrent. That’s our main priority,” one of the guards said.
The armed guards, hired by the Chicago Loop Alliance, will assist Chicago police in patrolling the area after a rise in the number of thefts in the First District. According to Chicago police data, robberies in the district jumped 69 percent in the first two months of this year, with 91 robberies occurring in January and February.
The guards, employed by HLSA Security, will now patrol Thursday to Saturday on State Street between Wacker Drive and Congress Parkway. Alderman Brendan Reilly helped push the idea forward, and welcomes the new guards patrolling the area.
“Chicago police in the first district do a great job, but giving them some extra eyes and ears is a good thing for everyone who works and lives downtown,” he said.
The guards will work with Chicago Loop Alliance street ambassadors, who watch for crimes and assist pedestrians. The ambassadors cannot help when a crime is in progress, but the new guards will be able to intervene.
“The idea was to bring in some trained personnel, a mixture of off-duty retired police and security guards to supplement the good work that police are already doing,” Ald. Reilly said.
On their first day, the guards say that the reception has been largely positive.
“They’re happy, very happy to see us,” one guard said.