Chicago Police Department showcases protest training ahead of Democratic National Convention

Thursday, June 6, 2024
Chicago police showcase protest training ahead of DNC
The Chicago Police Department showcased Thursday how it is training officers for protests and civil unrest at the Democratic National Convention 2024.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Police Department offered a first look Thursday into how officers are training as they prepare for the Democratic National Convention in August.

The city is anticipating large demonstrations that could result in mass arrests.

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Police did not want to reveal all of the training and scenarios that officers are preparing to deal with during the DNC, but the exercises come after questions were raised about how ready the department will be to constitutionally engage with protesters.

Chicago police, knowing they will be under a microscope during the DNC, put officers through training that will be critical to ensure they are prepared to respond in any situation, and do so constitutionally.

"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," Chicago Police Department Supt. Larry Snelling said.

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The officers at the training session were among 2,500 officers who will be on the front lines during the DNC. They are getting priority training that will eventually be given to all officers. It includes preparations for how to clear crowds to get medical personnel in to places where someone may have been injured.

Part of the preparations included how to properly use their shields to protect themselves and fellow officers and how to keep back any demonstrators who might step over the line.

"But when the threat level rises, when we know that attacks, physical attacks, violence is imminent, then the supervisors at that moment we'll make a decision on what has to be done each each situation is different," Snelling said.

Each shift will start with inspections to make sure officers have their necessary equipment and the information they need.

"As you can see, the training focuses on discipline," Snelling said. "We want to make sure that our office is a discipline that they're working together."

All officers will be wearing body cameras for accountability and for their own protection against claims of abuse of power.

"Personally, I think if you polled all the officers here and said, 'would you like to have or not have a body camera?' I absolutely believe the overwhelming if not the entirety of the response would be I absolutely want a camera," said Capt. Jake Alderden with CPD Training support group.

Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg was among those observing the training exercises Thursday. Her office recently released a report raising questions about how well police were prepared for the DNC and large scale protests.

"We have a lot to say about what goes wrong behind closed doors, I sincerely appreciate CPD's opening these doors inviting all of you and all of us to observe all of the training, I really appreciate that," Witzburg said. "I was very pleased to see some of the areas of potential confusion that we highlighted in our recent report clarified here, that's how this should work, it's how effective oversight works."

Police are also promising to protect neighborhoods across the city. Michigan Avenue is one area of particular focus to prevent vandalism.

"Those businesses will have security. We're looking at protections in front of those locations, so people can't drive into those locations," Snelling said.

The superintendent also made it clear there will be accountability for officers and their supervisors.

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Part of the training also focused on keeping officers fresh, and relieving them so they can eat, hydrate and get out of stressful situations.

"We want to do it in an organized fashion where everyone's safe and we do it and we still maintain the security that we're supposed to the area we're supposed to secure," said Cdr. Ralph Cruz with the Police Training Academy.

Police did not show all of the training for security reasons, but the superintendent made it clear they have nothing to hide.