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Chicago’s top cop announces a ‘summer operations center’ in time for long holiday weekend and the expected spike in violence

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 5 days ago By Rosemary Sobol, Chicago Tribune
a group of people posing for a picture: CPD Superintendent David Brown talks about the city's all-hands-on-deck public safety strategy in preparation for Memorial Day weekend at Olive Park on May 22, 2020. © E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS CPD Superintendent David Brown talks about the city's all-hands-on-deck public safety strategy in preparation for Memorial Day weekend at Olive Park on May 22, 2020.

Facing his first long holiday weekend in Chicago and the usual spike in violence, police Superintendent David Brown on Friday announced the launch of a “summer operations center” to reduce shootings and enforce social distancing and other pandemic guidelines.

Brown said patrols will be stepped up and “Chicago police will be visible in all neighborhoods.” He would not say how many extra officers will be deployed.

Last year, at least seven people were killed and 36 others wounded over the Memorial Day weekend as 1,200 extra officers patrolled the streets. The worst recent year was 2016, when at least six people were killed and 61 others wounded.

This year, Brown said a new summer operations center will make its debut in time for the long weekend with “the goal of reducing murders and shootings this summer.”

“The SOC will be keeping an eye on the city’s network of cameras and will even add some pop-up camera areas where we anticipate there might be trouble,’’ Brown said. This will allow the department to more easily “redeploy” officers to “address developing situations.”

The center will involve other city agencies, including the Park District, the CTA and Streets and Sanitation, and will operate every weekend through the summer.

With the stay-at-home order still in effect, Chicago police will also be “on the lookout for large gatherings” that are allowed because of the pandemic. Officers will initially issue warnings but will “take enforcement action when necessary” against those who “promote large gatherings.”

Officers will patrol the lakefront and adjacent parks, which remain closed, while the department’s marine unit will watch for boaters who violate the order.

The work of the police will be supplemented with hundreds of outreach workers from violence prevention groups whose mission “mirrors that of CPD. We both want to keep people safe.’’

Chris Patterson, a director with the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, said the groups work on the ground every day in these neighborhoods. “We can further foster positive relationships with residents and ensure they have resources and supports they need to stay safe,” Patterson said in a statement.

“Violence is not only a public safety issue but a public health issue’’ he added.

Norman Kerr, the city’s director of violence reduction, said officials will also rely on a violence reduction dashboard online that will use “real-time’’ crime data to reduce further violence.

Brown ended his remarks at Olive Park by urging residents to “remain vigilant.”

“Nobody knows their neighborhood better than the people that live there,” he said. “That’s how we’re going to reduce violence. It will be a group effort. Memorial Day did not sneak up on us.”


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