Police, other officials announce Chicago summer safety plan – CBS News

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By Tara Molina, Jermont Terry
/ CBS Chicago
CHICAGO (CBS) — You’ll see more police officers across the city this summer, according to the city’s summer safety plan just announced Friday.
The plan was announced by the Chicago Police Department, along with the Office of Emergency Management, and Communications and the Chicago Fire Department.
Police said there will be an increased police presence across the city and on the lakefront this summer – but gave no details.
“To supplement resources already within police districts, CPD will increase its presence across the city and on the lakefront this summer to maintain public safety in areas of large-scale events, gatherings and car caravans. In addition to these precision deployments, the Bureau of Patrol has also held numerous tabletop exercises and drills to ensure appropriate police response to active situations,” police announced in a news release. “CPD is also working closely with community organizations and leaders to provide safe spaces for youth and families to enjoy the city.”
05 May 23 – Summer Public Safety Preparation by Adam Harrington on Scribd
Officials also debuted a new emergency management app – something they say can be used as a public safety tool, providing safety information and preparedness tips.
“Residents are encouraged to download the new Chicago OEMC App as a public safety tool providing safety information, preparedness tips, maps, emergency alerts, and event information,” police said in a news release. “The App also provides access to current weather conditions, forecasts, live weather radar and more from the National Weather Service in Chicago.”
The Chicago OEMC app is available at chicago.gov/oemc.
CBS 2’s Tara Molina brought the plan to violence prevention groups – who hope the city will focus on the entire city and all residents. They don’t want the plan to be limited to the downtown area, where we’ve tracked concerns for years.
The weather was warm Friday night in Chicago, and the weekend is expected to be just as nice. Yet for many, nice weather brings anxiety – with some unsure if another teen takeover or violence will ensue.
On Friday night, Chicago Police were out in full force – insisting they had it all under control.
In downtown Chicago along Columbus Drive early in May – with snow but a memory – city plow trucks are set up. There are more just off Michigan Avenue.
They are standing by ready to move in to prevent a repeat of the chaos we saw downtown last month.
Summer-like temperatures set in for a few days in the middle of April. The first large-group incident happened on the night of Wednesday, April 12, when about 150 teens took over Millennium Park.
A 16-year-old girl was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital with minor injuries, and was reported in good condition. No other injuries were reported.
The group was dispersed from the area, and the park stayed open until its usual closing time of 11 p.m. that night. There were no arrests.
But the takeovers continued in the days to come. On the night of Friday, April 14, crowds took over the 31st Street Beach.
Videos showed crowds taking over the beach and at times pouring out into the streets and disrupting traffic, and a car caught fire at one point. The Office of Emergency Management estimates more than 300 people were in the crowd,
At some point in the middle of all of the melee at the 31st Street Beach, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the thigh.
One night later, chaos erupted downtown. Drivers and CTA buses were surrounded by large groups of teens, who took over the streets.
Shootings, beatings, robberies, and vandalism happened that night – all in large crowds of mostly teens. Three teenagers were shot in two separate incidents.
A man and woman were also attacked on Wabash Avenue. Ashley Knutson and Devonte “DJ” Johnson were in town from South Carolina and were walking in the Loop just trying to find a place to eat, when they were cornered and attacked with no way out.
Fifteen people were arrested, including nine adults and six juveniles. 
Similar issues were seen last year in various areas around the city. In May 2022, 16-year-old Seandell Holliday was shot and killed right in front of the Bean in Millennium Park. 
That was when security checkpoints went up around the park at the orders of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Juveniles were required to have adult supervision after 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
A city spokesperson confirmed those same rules will be in place this year.
What are police doing?
“We learned a lot from the events of a couple weeks ago,” said Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott. “We put some additional plans in place to make sure that that doesn’t happen. We will have a contingent of additional resources downtown at all times.”
But Jermaine Anderson with I Am A Gentleman told us there’s more to be done when it comes to teens – and it’s not related to police.
“They are not all involved in negative activity,” Anderson said. “You have a few apples that have spoiled the entire bunch.”
That is why, Anderson says, there needs to be a focus on the programs in the city that are working this summer. He is working on a plan of his own – with other community and anti-violence group leaders, to present to Mayor-Elect Johnson in the coming days…
“The plan says, again, find those organizations that have proven success records and proven track records – and invest in those organizations,” Anderson said.
Meanwhile, we asked city officials about other the specific safety concerns we’re tracking weekly.
Just this week, there were two separate stabbings within a matter of hours on the CTA Orange Line near Western Avenue, and Red Line near 95th Street.
Violent crime on the Chicago Transit Authority system is trending down right now. But with ridership cut in half since pre-pandemic days, we know crime is one of the reasons people aren’t using the system.
What are police doing?
Chief McDermott said police are upping patrols this summer.
“We hear the concerns of the city,” McDermott said. “We want to make people not only feel safe, but be safe while they’re on public transit.”
CBS 2’s Jermont Terry talked about the safety plans with Pastor Donovan Price with Street Pastors – a crisis intervention advocate.
“We all need to vigilant, not scared,” Price said.
Price went down to witness safely the behavior of those who took over the streets three weeks ago. He said while police are beefing up patrols and the curfew at Millennium Park may be active, he watched youngsters taunting cops.
“Nobody wants to be the next person to hit or shoot an unarmed Black kid, and so the kids were actually toying with the police,” Price said.
Price says the teens watch the news – and if the city secures downtown only, they will find somewhere else.
“Maybe downtown for a while won’t be the place that they do it, because they know that they’re going straight into people who are waiting on them,” Price said.
Church leaders across Chicago are also working on various plans to help combat the problem. They are presenting a plan of their own to Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson.
“I think everyone needs to be hands-in – part of the solution – or realize that they have some stake in the problem,” said Price.
Tara Molina is a general assignment reporter for CBS2 Chicago.
First published on May 5, 2023 / 3:58 PM
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