DEA teams prep for 2024 Democratic National Convention in Chicago

ByBarb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones and Chuck Goudie WLS logo
Friday, June 7, 2024
DEA teams prep for Democratic Convention in Chicago
Come August 19, 2024 some federal agents typically tracking drug dealers, are expected to be absorbed in the ever-growing security force surrounding the Chicago DNC.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With less than 10 weeks until the balloons drop at Chicago's Democratic National Convention, law enforcement is in a sprint to the finish line.

Come August 19, 2024 some federal agents typically tracking drug dealers are expected to be absorbed into the ever-growing security force surrounding the upcoming DNC to help protect the peace and ensure safety.

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DEA Chicago Special Agent in Charge Sheila Lyons explained to the I-Team what the agency's law enforcement role at the convention could look like.

"We can provide bodies, we can augment manpower," she said.

The DEA Chicago Division has the training and capabilities to support DNC security and are expecting an order to provide support, joining a massive protection force with dozens of government entities that will be overseen by U.S. Secret Service and Chicago police.

DEA Special Response Teams will be on standby during the DNC; the agency's version of SWAT adept at tactical responses to crisis situations.

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"We work with our local and federal partners on events like the Chicago Marathon, and Lollapalooza, very often and almost always seamlessly, because we, we bring whatever assets that we are asked to provide," Lyons explained.

Chicago police on Thursday demonstrated the protective shield training they are receiving in case of unruly crowds, riots and other civil disturbances.

About 2,500 CPD officers on the front lines alone will have priority training and instruction in crowd clearing and helping to move in medical teams.

"When our officers are out there dealing with volatile situations, they're going to be decisions that those officers are going to have to make, and we want to make sure that they're trained properly to make the most effective decision," said CPD Supt. Larry Snelling.

As the I-Team has reported, Chicago police will also deploy officers to Milwaukee for the Republican convention in July. The DEA is also expected to be deployed there as well.

Wisconsin is in the zone covered by Chicago DEA, and federal officials promise that even with the convention assignments, regular drug enforcement work will continue 24/7 as the region and nation continue to struggle with a ferocious fentanyl problem.