CHICAGO - It's get away day as millions hit the road for Labor Day weekend. Chicago police plan to increase patrols at several spots across the city over the holiday weekend.
The CPD just wrapped up a six week operation to get street gang members off the streets ahead of the Labor Day Weekend. Police arrested 90 people and 86 of them have been charged with felonies.
"The goal of this operation was simple. Remove elements from the community responsible for driving the violence and to allow families in all neighborhoods to safely enjoy the holiday weekend," said Chief Anthony Riccio, CPD.
The department will have 1,300 additional uniformed and plainclothes officers patrolling the lakefront, parks, CTA stations and neighborhoods this weekend.
"CPD will not tolerate violent behavior. If you choose to put others in danger for your actions, you will feel the full weight of CPD and our partners in law enforcement," said First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro, CPD.
Although there are no credible threats to the city, there will be a larger police presence along Lake Shore Drive at public events.
"More officers on the street will not only increase our presence but offer more flexibility in our deployments," said First Deputy Supt. Kevin Navarro.
The Department announced its safety plan along with a report that shootings and murders are down compared to last year and the previous year.
New technology and improving community relations are credited for what the First Deputy Superintendent called progress.
"We are not where we want to be, definitely, but we are making those gains and we are going in the direction we want to go," said First Deputy Supt. Navarro.
Meanwhile some Chicago residents are eager for safer communities for themselves and their neighbors.
Residents and police agree that community involvement make everyone safer.
The Community Policing Advisory Panel has offered a draft of recommendations and has invited the public to offer comments on that draft.
You may view and comment on the draft here: https://home.chicagopolice.org/reform/community-policing/
The roadways are also expected to be busy. The average price of gas has reached a record high for the year. Here in Illinois, the average price of gas is $2.50 per gallon. That's up about 17-cents from this time last year.
Both CPD and Illinois State Police will have their eyes on drivers breaking the law.
"We will use directive patrols, road side safety checks, aircraft, video cameras and all the resources we can bring to bear to reduce accidents and reduce crime," Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz said.
CPD: August shootings down 45 percent from last year
Shootings declined by 45.4 percent in August and murders were down by 47.4 percent compared to the same month last year, according to Chicago Police statistics.
This August saw more than 300 people wounded in shootings, along with at least 52 deaths ruled homicides, according to data kept by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Police still touted it as the sixth straight month to see a decline in shootings over the previous year, the city's longest such stretch in four years, the department said.
Shootings overall are down by 16.6 percent this year compared to last year, police said. More than 2,500 people have been shot in the city in 2017, with nearly 470 homicides, Sun-Times data shows.
Chicago suffered one of its bloodiest years in two decades in 2016, with more than 4,300 gunshot victims and nearly 800 homicides.
Officers have seized more than 6,100 illegal guns, as part of a 34 percent increase in gun arrests over 2016, according to police.
"While we certainly are not declaring victory, our progress in reducing violence during the month of August has been significant," CPD First Deputy Supt. Kevin Navarro said in a statement. "This progress is due in large part to the brave efforts of Chicago police officers with the help of the technology we have put into place in some of our most active districts."
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.