OIG issues report on Chicago Police Department's readiness for handling mass gatherings ahead of DNC

Thursday, May 30, 2024
OIG issues report on CPD's readiness for handling mass gatherings
The Chicago Department's readiness for handling mass gatherings is the subject of a report by the Office of the Inspector General.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Office of Inspector General has released a report Thursday on the Chicago Police Department's readiness for the Democratic National Convention.

The OIG has been looking back at CPD's response to the George Floyd protests and unrest in 2020. It found that while police have made improvements, there's more work to be done.

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The 45-page report released Thursday morning from Chicago's Office of Inspector General found that the Chicago Police Department needs improvement when responding to large-scale events.

The report comes as the city prepares to host the Democratic National Convention in August.

The report is a follow-up to the Office of Inspector General's 2021 examination of Chicago's response to the events following the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

Back then, the OIG found that CPD was "outflanked...under-equipped...and unprepared" for the unrest that ensued throughout the city following Floyd's murder.

Now, just a few years later, the OIG is marking areas of improvement for CPD when responding to mass gatherings... like roll calls and crowd control.

"I think the bottom line here is that there is some good news there are some areas of real meaningful concrete improvement in the city's preparedness," Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg said. "There are also areas of continued concern."

The OIG says CPD has not improved guidance for consistent messaging during roll calls for planned events, is using outdated crowd control tactics and failing to sufficiently address constitutional rights of lawful demonstrations.

"My hope is that in identifying these areas of persistent concern, nearly three months out from this event that there is still some time to sort of account for those concerns," Witzburg said.

The OIG did say CPD has made some improvements since the unrest in 2020, including working with other agencies to test emergency response plans...and creating citywide approaches for managing large-scale events.

But with the DNC on the horizon, Witzburg says Chicago needs to have confidence in CPD as the department prepares for any planned or unplanned mass gatherings.

"What I can say is that the City of Chicago, the police department, is committed to constitutional policing," Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said.

The Chicago Police Department issued a six page response to the OIG's findings, writing in part, "...the Department has made considerable progress with respect to its response to Mass Gatherings since the events of 2020. The Department has prioritized comprehensive policy revision in partnership with the Independent Monitoring Team, the Office of Attorney General, and community partners."

"What we have embedded in there as First Amendment protections, Fourth Amendment rights, and everything about it is constitutional," CPD Superintendent Larry Snelling said. "We will protect the city of Chicago. We will protect our people who live in this city and will continue to do so and we're not going to allow someone to walk into the city and destroy it is that simple. Simply put, it's nonsense to believe that the Chicago Police Department is not going to be prepared when this happens. We've been preparing since day one."

Snelling said the police response will be proportional to whatever happens during the DNC and that officer training will continue.