Chicago Police to Conduct 2 Public Safety Drills Thursday

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Note: Supt. Brown's news conference can be watched live in the video player above beginning at around 1:30 p.m. CST.

Chicago police are scheduled to conduct two public safety drills Thursday, one on the city's Northwest Side and the other on the South Side, officials said.

The drills will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at retail areas in the Belmont Cragin and Bronzeville neighborhoods, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office. The specific locations will be at the 2600 North Narragansett Avenue area in CPD District 25 and near 47th Street and Cottage Grove in District 2, authorities said.

City officials said access to each area will not be restricted but residents may experience traffic disruptions. Chicago Police Supt. David Brown was scheduled to speak at 1:30 p.m. at 47th and State streets near the site of the Bronzeville drill alongside other CPD leadership, the department said.

The drills are part of the city's new "all-hands-on-deck" strategy using multiple departments and agencies "to engineer security measures in order to mitigate risk to neighborhood business corridors throughout the city in the event of a public safety emergency," Lightfoot's office said.

"The focus of this exercise is to ensure the safety and well-being of residents, workers, businesses and peaceful gatherings. The drill is not in response to any event but has been planned for weeks as part of our ongoing safety efforts," the mayor's office said in a statement.

Departments involved include: Office of Emergency Management and Communications, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Department of Transportation, Streets and Sanitation, Department of Water Management, Chicago Transit Authority, among others, OEMC said.

This new strategy was implemented as police reform protests and unrest erupted in Chicago following the police killing of George Floyd in late May in Minneapolis.

While many of the protests in Chicago have remained peaceful, the city has also seen looting and chaos erupt at points amid the unrest, taking place against the backdrop of a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted minority communities. On Aug. 10, more than 100 people were arrested and more than a dozen officers injured as groups broke into stores and stole merchandise in several neighborhoods near Chicago's downtown area, according to police.

That destruction and violence happened months after a first round of looting took place citywide immediately following Floyd's death, and just hours after Chicago police officers - who were not wearing body cameras - shot a man in the Englewood neighborhood.

The following weekend, officers and demonstrators clashed in the city's downtown area. Videos of the scene appeared to show officers cordoning protesters off in a technique a coalition of aldermen identified as kettling, a controversial crowd control tactic in which police corral a group into a small area and surround them on all sides to immobilize them, direct them to a single exit or facilitate arrests, sometimes all of the above.

Chicago police have placed blame on protesters for escalating violence against officers, arresting at least two dozen people, some charged with felonies in connection with the protest.

Late last month, the city conducted a public safety drill in the downtown area, putting up large barricades at several intersections in Streeterville and the Gold Coast, closing some streets and rerouting traffic in parts.

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