Chicago police prepare for holiday weekend after 72 murders in June

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Chicago police say they are increasing the number of officers on foot and bike patrol and more officers working overtime will concentrate on hot spots this holiday weekend. (WLS)

Chicago police say they are increasing the number of officers on foot and bike patrol and more officers working overtime will concentrate on hot spots this holiday weekend.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says he is using every tool he has this Independence Day weekend.

"CPD will not tolerate violent behavior and if you choose to put others in danger for your own actions, you will feel the full weight of CPD and our partners in law enforcement," Johnson said.

At a press conference Friday morning, Supt. Johnson, state troopers, Cook County Sheriff's deputies and emergency management officials outlined a battle plan.

More than 5,000 uniformed and plain clothes police officers will flood the city. They will be out where big groups of people will be such as Navy Pier, baseball games and city parks.

"Beginning tonight and through the weekend, expect to see a larger police presence throughout the city, especially at Navy Pier, on the lakefront in parks, CTA stations and on city streets," Johnson said.

The Illinois State Police are also supporting the effort with aircraft patrolling the roadways and strict DUI enforcement.

"I have said this before and I'll say it again, our number one goal is to save lives," said Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz.

This comes as the city closes out the month of June with some ugly statistics. The city of Chicago saw 72 murders last month, according to crime data released by Chicago police Friday. It is the most of any month so far this year. There were also 355 shootings in June and 429 shooting victims.

Halfway through the year, there have been 315 murders, up almost 50 percent from the same time last year, and more than 1,600 shootings and 1,953 shooting victims.

The city is on pace for 700 murders in 2016.

"Repeat gun offenders are telling us that they're not going to stop that behavior unless we stop them and so that's what we're going to do," Johnson said. "We're going to stop them because it's unacceptable."

Johnson says it is up to state legislators to help him fight this fight and narrow in on about 1,400 offenders who have been identified as the root of the mayhem.

"If we can remove these repeat offenders from the communities that they're terrorizing, then our gun violence will go down," Johnson said.

Johnson later joined lawmakers to announce a framework for new laws that would target repeat violent gun offenders, as with recent raids on gangs and their associates, those who law enforcement think likely to offend.

"The idea is for us to have presumptive guidelines that judges must follow," Sen. Kwame Raoul said.

Meanwhile, Navy Pier officials promise it will be safe during the Fourth of July weekend.

"Throughout the Pier we will have presence from security from the Chicago Police Department as well as private security and Navy Pier security so we will definitely be a very, very safe place," said Navy Pier spokesperson Payal Patel.

Johnson said while the focus is on policing now, curbing violence is everyone's priority.

"Any leader in the city of Chicago, if they are not upset and angry about the level of violence in the city, then they shouldn't be a leader," Johnson said.

That legislative fix still needs to be presented for a vote in Springfield. In the meantime, Chicago police report they have seized more than 4,300 guns since January, which is 30 percent more than last year.
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