CHICAGO (WLS) -- Law enforcement is preparing for the unknown, and the unwanted, in advance of next summer's Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
The Secret Service is joining forces with Chicago police this week in Washington, D.C., even though the DNC isn't until August 2024. There is a mammoth effort underway to shore up meeting spaces at the United Center and McCormick Place, dozens of hotels and everywhere in between for when delegates and dignitaries move around the city.
"Over 400 foreign dignitaries from around the world will be here in Chicago for this convention, millions of people will be watching at home, not only in this country, but again, globally is well. We will probably have 50,000 people who will embark here," said DNC chair Jaime Harrison.
In 1996, when Chicago last hosted a Democratic convention, the city and the world were far different places. September 11 hadn't happened and social media as we know it was still a year away. It's also a new law enforcement team from Chicago at Secret Service headquarters this week for the first briefings on protecting the city, the DNC convention and safeguarding everybody involved.
Dignitary Protection training is also underway this week by the Secret Service for a dozen police departments, even as CPD officials are in D.C. for their initial convention briefings.
The Secret Service has unveiled a splashy video aimed at recruiting agents and officers, and agency officials tell the I-Team Chicago police are being schooled in their protective methodology and threat assessment protocols.
The first time Chicago hosted a National Special Security Event was the NATO Summit in 2012. Next summer, a dozen years later, and under new administrations, the Democratic Convention will be the city's second National Special Security Event, with the world watching again.
Chicago police counter-terror, SWAT and crime prevention officials visited the Secret Service training center. This week isn't the end of the training. For the next year, we are told CPD commanders will be invited to "shadow" the Secret Service at large scale events, including at the United Nations General Assembly and bilateral summits.