City Officials to Replicate Last Year's Taste of Chicago Safety Plan

The 39th annual Taste of Chicago takes place July 10-14

Officials said Wednesday that the city was confident going into the 39th annual Taste of Chicago festival with the safety and security plan from the previous year.

"We're confident with the plan that we had last year coming into this year's Taste," Office of Emergency Management and Communications Executive Director Rich Guidice said at a news conference detailing the city's protocol on Wednesday, the day the iconic festival opened.

"The key is being able to move around our resources and that's something I think the Chicago Police Department does really well," Guidice continued. "If a need comes up in a certain area of the festival, or even outside the perimeter of the festival, those resources will be deployed accordingly."

Guidice said the festival would be staffed by private security as well as the Chicago Police Department, both stationed at all eight or nine entry points to the fest, held each year in the city's Grant Park.

"When you walk in the Taste of Chicago, you'll be greeted by private security and behind them you'll have Chicago Police Department," he said. A command post onsite provides a place for CPD, OEMC, the Chicago Fire Department and other agencies monitoring the event, while OEMC will also be monitoring events from its headquarters offsite on the Near West Side.

A "multitude" of cameras will be on the premises of Grant Park itself, as well as on the CTA and around the perimeter of the taste, officials said.

"As typical for Grant Park festivals, you'll see jersey wall, you'll see cell trucks and obviously a lot of police in uniform and a lot of law enforcement that you will not see, a lot of undercover as well," Guidice said.

The stabbings and stampede at Navy Pier on the Fourth of July were incidents in city officials' minds amid preparations for the Taste, but Guidice said the public "should feel safe" in attending the fest.

"We think we had a good response to that unfortunate activity at Navy Pier but for a good part of the day it was a great event at Navy Pier," Guidice said. "As you know, it took place outside the safe perimeter to Navy Pier but still something that we're looking at, investigating and still taking a good look at. As a matter of fact, we just got done reviewing a good portion of that with the Navy Pier COO."

When it comes to weather, OEMC officials had a plan in place for that as well.

"Grant Park has been evacuated in the past, probably most recently for Lollapalooza over the past few years," Guidice said. "We have our parking garages that are directly underneath a good part of the festival grounds, also businesses and restaurants within the area will usually take on a good group of crowd if it necessitates an evacuation."

"Obviously early notification to that is our goal and we've done a good job working with the National Weather Service in the past and they are well involved with this plan here today," he continued, adding that a speaker system was installed throughout the park system and vendors were made aware of a notification system to communicate with everyone on the festival grounds quickly in the event of an evacuation.

"If it's just rain, rain's not a problem, right? We deal with rain all the time. If it's lightning that's coming with those storms, that's where it becomes a game changer and that's something that we would take into early consideration," he continued.

"Chicago Police Department have put together a very good public safety plan, the city as a whole has put together a very robust public safety plan so we're confident we have a good plan in place and we want people to come down and enjoy themselves," Guidice added.

The Taste of Chicago runs through July 14, bringing more than 80 restaurants to Grant Park. Last year it attracted more than one million visitors. 

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