What security measures will be in place during NATO?

March 8, 2012 4:36:02 PM PST
People who live, travel and work near McCormick Place could find themselves inside the security perimeter set up during the NATO summit in May.

With the moving of the G8 summit to Camp David, the weekend won't be as originally designed, but still plenty big.

"While the nature of the event has changed, the economic opportunity and job opportunity that comes from it still exists," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

The mayor's mantra is economic opportunity. NATO -- even minus G-8 -- will bring that economic opportunity, according to Mayor Emanuel. It's a message endorsed with a touch of humor by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"The G8's coming to Camp David? And NATO's coming here? Neither are coming to New York," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

One thing for sure: G8's departure does not alter the security plan.

Arnette Heintze is a former head of Secret Service in Chicago. His security consulting firm - Hillard Heintze - is now the key-liaison with businesses. As the countdown to NATO continues, there will be weekly meetings with business leaders to help them prepare.

"We are so close to McCormick Place, how are they going to accommodate us?" asks Pete Gleason, Joyce Ford, said.

There are dozens of businesses - like Joyce Ford - that sit in the shadow of McCormick Place, and they're likely to be within what's expected to be a fairly tight, fenced, inner perimeter around McCormick Place as determined by the Secret Service.

"They will not close businesses down. They will work with them to facilitate their need to continue commerce," Arnette Heintze said.

Still, the question is: to what extent will heightened security keep customers away from an inner perimeter? And what of travel in the immediate area?

When Boston hosted the 2004 Democratic National Convention - at what is now called TD Garden - Interstate 93 which runs right alongside it was closed in the evenings when the convention was underway. And public transit that ran underneath and alongside was re-rerouted. The Stevenson runs right alongside McCormick Place, and Metra Electric runs underneath it. Extended interstate traffic shutdowns - even on a NATO Sunday - would not be popular.

"I'm not part of that planning process, but if I was a betting man, no it's not going to be closed," Heintze said.

That is not to say that there won't be temporary road closings - expressways and locals - because of motorcades. The Secret Service makes that call, and their design on security perimeters and traffic flow will be put to paper two to four weeks ahead of the event.

The weekly meetings with business leaders will flush out a lot of concerns, though the answers may not be immediately forthcoming.