Chicago Police

Increased police presence expected in Chicago for Memorial Day weekend as law enforcement prepares for summer

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Chicago police officers are out of their squad cars and walking in groups along Michigan Avenue, interacting with residents and tourists alike. The change had been requested by many who are concerned about what is sure to be a busy summer season in the city.

“I was glad to see these great, young new police officers out here patrolling. But yes, safety in Chicago is important,” said Morgan Park Pastor Bill Ellis, who was out walking with Justin Edwards.

In addition to the festivals and parades that come with the season, Chicago police will also face additional security challenges this year. The Democratic National Convention will bring thousands of delegates, politicians and protesters to the United Center and McCormick Place.

“We have had a lot of practice in the last few months alone in handling these large-scale events,” CPD Captain David Koenig told a packed auditorium at a town hall organized by the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR).  “Combined with the training we have been doing so far as field force operations, I feel confident that as a department we will do a great job as far as handing those protests,” Koenig said.

2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins said the city can expect disruptions as a part of the lead up to the convention. “They will be engaging in some civil disobedience. We saw a preview of that when they shut down Interstate 90 on the way to O’Hare,” he said. “I think that was a test, a test of what they can do, and it has been duly noted.”

Hopkins said the city will also rely on technology like license plate readers and a new helicopter to assist in safety efforts. “It will be working in conjunction with our strategic decision support centers, our network of police observation cameras and license plate readers which are extraordinarily valuable tools,” he said.

Another concern for police will be large teen gatherings often organized on social media. Koenig said officers will monitor so-called “teen takeovers” and will take enforcement action immediately if they see criminal activity. They will also be enforcing a 10 p.m. youth curfew.

“No one wants to put a bunch of kids in jail. No one’s looking for that. But if you show there are consequences for bad actions, you will see those bad actions drop off,” said 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly, whose ward also includes part of Streeterville.

Pastor Edwards said he and Pastor Ellis are concerned about the safety and security of downtown, but want to make sure people living all over the city are safe. They said young people could be the keys to making that happen.

“I have high hopes that along with live free violence protection, gun violence prevention, we will be safe and we will have individuals who are mature and we won’t have the same problems the last summer we had,” Edwards said.

The city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications said it will activate its Summer Operations Center this weekend and every weekend through Labor Day.

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