Chicago police to flood downtown with 1K officers this weekend; Lightfoot releases plan to protect businesses, neighborhoods after looting

Macy's considering exiting Water Tower Place: report

Saturday, August 15, 2020
Chicago police to flood downtown with 1K officers this weekend
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Police and city agencies will partner to achieve an integrated and faster approach to lockdowns of certain locations in the city, in the event of looting.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After pervasive looting earlier this week, Chicago police plan to flood downtown with 1,000 officers this weekend to prevent more violence.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a news conference at noon near Ohio Street Beach, where she announced new steps to protect Chicago businesses and neighborhoods.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx and other officials joined her.

"Whether it's in our downtown commercial district or in one of our other 77 neighborhoods, there can never be any place in Chicago where businesses are afraid to open, where residents and visitors are afraid to travel and shop," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said city leadership is united in its effort to stop future looting and outlined five strategies to do so, including the enhanced use of technology and data analytics and implementation of a Social Media Task Force.

She said police would also be able to rapidly deploy resources and more bodycams were being distributed.

Police and city agencies will partner to achieve an integrated and faster approach to lockdowns of certain locations in the city, in the event of looting.

A new rapid response communication framework between CPD and businesses will also be established, Lightfoot said. And CPD will work to create stronger community partnerships.

The city's looting prevention plan begins with the creation of a 20-member police social media monitoring task force, staffed around the clock. Police are also prepared to rapidly redeploy resources where needed and have a geographic lockdown strategy to block or disable looter vehicles.

The businesses will be proactively alerted, and the city is looking at new laws to prosecute looters.

"You deserve to feel safe," Lightfoot said.

Foxx detailed how many cases her office is processing from looting over the last few months and discussed ongoing gun violence across the city.

RELATED: Chicago police monitor social media as crime-fighting strategy; sociologist, ACLU urge caution

Ald. Hopkins questioned why the announced plan was not put into place sooner, but is optimistic it will work.

"We can never let that happen again, we've got two strikes on us, one more night like the one we just had Sunday night. Three strikes and we're out, and we can't afford to let that happen," he said.

Police and the FBI said they've received tips but they still need more help from the public to identify those responsible for Monday's looting.

Brown said Thursday night that 1,000 more officers will be stationed downtown this weekend. CPD said it's ready to respond in case there is more unrest.

"If that means deploying stop-strip to puncture your tire, if you're caravanning cars to loot, we will disable your car to prevent the caravan," Brown said Thursday. "And we will work very hard to do so. If that means deploying tow trucks to impound your cars that are caravanning, CPD will do so."

Police have also promised to block off streets and box looters in.

Brown stood Thursday before a backdrop of dozens of photos of alleged looters, who detectives are actively searching for right now.

Chicago police are releasing dozens of photos of people they believe looted and destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars in property and merchandise.

RELATED: Chicago police seeking public's help in identifying suspected looters

Supt. Brown said CPD and the FBI are combing through video and taking leads from a newly-created looting tip line as he issued a stern warning.

"What I want the looters to learn is how committed we are to not only stopping the looting but, if they escape, working tirelessly to find them, punish them and prosecute them," Brown said.

Law enforcement is scouring footage of alleged looters. Among them are two women who police say broke into the Victoria's Secret store on the fourth floor of Water Tower Place.

RELATED: New Chicago looting video released as feds investigate hundreds of digital leads

Chicago police have also had their days off canceled and are working longer shifts.

Meanwhile, small business owner Mo Zahid, whose store got hit by looters on the Magnificent Mile, wonders what will happen if the looters try again.

"What I think is my biggest concern is how many people participated in the looting, see it as a success," he said.

After this week's events, there are questions about Macy's remaining at Water Tower Place.

Crain's Chicago Business is reporting the anchor store may leave or shrink its footprint at the location.

A source told Crain's the retailer is not happy with the police response to the recent looting.

Mayor Lightfoot, however, disputed that account, saying that her understanding is that Macy's had been looking to leave the space and downsize its retail store operations before the looting happened, as the company had been struggling for some time.

RELATED: Downtown Chicago business owners reevaluate amid coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest

Late night travel restrictions into downtown remain in effect through the weekend. Most of the bridges over the river will be raised, and exits off the interstates will be blocked from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.