Chicago police grapple with near-overwhelming unrest as Gov.Pritzker calls up more National Guard

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police have been grappling with an overwhelming number of 911 calls amid the waves of unrest roiling Chicago over the weekend and into the week.

Monday night, shots fired at Chicago police near 23rd and Kedzie sent patrol units swarming into Little Village looking for the gunman. During the frenzied search, several people were detained including a young man tracked to an empty building.

No one was injured but the saturation response is evidence of a city on edge and a police force looking for tensions to ease.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to drive home the scale of the unrest at a Monday morning news conference.

"We had 65,000 calls for service yesterday," she said. "One thousand every 30 minutes. In some instances, 2,000."

She stated the obvious: A police department four times the size of Chicago's couldn't handle that load of 911 calls.

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Chicago police had to contend with "precision looting" by organized groups of criminals Sunday night.

The department also had to deal with organized criminals, deploying "precision looting" in some areas, like in Wicker Park where, on North Damen Sunday night, several vehicles arrived with smash-and-grab squads that carried out boxloads of merchandise. That same tactic was deployed in different neighborhoods around the city.

"You had this distraction technique to misdirect our resources in one area so they can really attack the, the more predominant retail that we were trying to keep whole, which was their true target, and we didn't take the bait," CPD Superintendent David Brown said Monday.

But there were times Sunday night when the police didn't respond promptly; at a Walgreens in Wicker Park, on a night where authorities were admittedly overwhelmed by 911 calls. The I-Team watched as people on foot and in cars carried out items through the front door, from toilet paper, to diapers, a big fan, and one man even with a bouquet of flowers.
The I-Team watched that scene at North Avenue near Western for at least 10 minutes and no police showed up.

"Our police department did the best that they could under the circumstances, we added additional resources, directed by these men on the south and the west sides to respond to that challenge," said Lightfoot. "But the challenge was significant. People, unfortunately, believed to take an act in a lawless manner without any regard for their neighbors."

Governor JB Pritzker called up an additional 250 members of the National Guard to assist Chicago police, but cautioned the guards won't be patrolling city streets. Illinois state police are also backing up CPD.

The city's strategy of blockading downtown seems to have reduce Loop and River North streets to a bare minimum.

CPD has also made a key addition to the management of the crisis: Steve Georgas, a top McPier security official and Chicago police special operations veteran, was called in Sunday to help adjust the police department's response to severe looting and street violence.

Georgas oversaw police planning for numerous large events over the years including marathons and sports championships and the NATO summit in 2012.
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