Chicago unveils new FBI command center ahead of 2024 DNC

ByBarb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones and Chuck Goudie WLS logo
Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Chicago unveils new FBI command center ahead of 2024 DNC
Chicago's FBI unveiled a newly renovated command center just a couple months before the eyes of the world will be trained on the 2024 Democratic National Convention.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Coming together just as the as the eyes of the world will be on Chicago for the Democratic National Convention, the Chicago FBI unveiled a newly renovated command center.

The I-Team getting a first look at what amounts to the FBI's Mission Control, providing top-clearance, secure communication links between law enforcement agencies and officials around the globe.

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The aim is to prevent terrorist attacks or other calamities and better respond if they do happen.

For Robert W. "Wes" Wheeler Jr., the special agent in charge of FBI-Chicago, what matters is that when Democrats descend on the city in August, they and the city will he happy and healthy when the national nominating convention ends.

"We have connectivity to the rest of the FBI, the rest of the United States intelligence community anywhere in the world. Foreign partners, we can communicate securely, and that's important. A lot of times when world events matter to what we're doing here in Chicago," he said.

He also explained that the room, with wall to wall computers and monitors, is a key component in the unlocking of a successful DNC.

"We were due for an upgrade, to be really honest, in Chicago for the technology upgrade that we received. Mission capable before, for sure. but we're much more up to speed with the current technology to be able to do it now. So, I'm very happy to have it in place before the DNC. It makes us much more efficient in the mission," Wheeler said.

There are about 80 Chicago police officers assigned to the FBI center, with various federal and local taskforce teams as part of a modern law enforcement partnership model that works to address different kinds of crime problems.

Among the CPD assignees is Kevin Eberle, a 30-year veteran detective who works on the violent crimes and fugitive task force. On Monday, with CPD Superintendent Larry Snelling on hand for the ceremony, Eberle was presented with a national FBI award as task force officer of the year. It's believed to be the first-ever for a Chicago officer.

"It's a significant award for us to recognize a person from a partner agency like that that works with us. 30 year veteran of the department been with us for several years and is tremendously helpful with doing the mission on the violent crime side with our agents and staff," said Wheeler.

There was a time in Chicago, just a few decades ago, when law enforcement agencies were territorial and sometimes fought like angry neighbors. Those age old turf wars have largely gone away and the world partner is now a staple of police speak.

Federal-local partnerships are a crucial daily element of law enforcement and will especially be on display in August.