Update on Security Briefings with Mayor’s Office and CPD
Last week, representatives from BOMA/Chicago’s Board and Preparedness Advisory Group met with the Office of the Mayor and the Chicago Police Department (CPD). As you know, the Mayor recently announced a plan to improve the City’s response to large public safety events, and we received a briefing and provided feedback on the plan. Yesterday, a larger group from our Preparedness Committee participated in a follow-up briefing regarding the City’s preparations specifically for this weekend’s planned protests.
Below are some selected notes from the briefings. Please note in particular the new communication channel BOMA/Chicago has coordinated with the City, which you are invited to join and which we will test during planned protests this weekend.
Apology from the Mayor: Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar apologized on behalf of Mayor Lightfoot for the looting and destruction that occurred a few weeks ago, and reiterated the Mayor’s commitment that such behavior will not be tolerated by the City.
Elevating Criminal Charges: For each case, CPD is pursuing the highest charges evidence will support.
- Additional charges can be added during the process, so CPD reiterated the importance of our members sharing any relevant video you have.
- For gun arrests specifically, CPD is working with the ATF and FBI to elevate charges directly to federal cases instead of first going through the County system.
- Creation of Looting Task Force in CPD’s Detectives Bureau: In partnership with the FBI and the Cook County State’s Attorney, CPD has formed a task force to specifically manage prosecution of looting cases. This Task Force is reviewing video camera footage and other evidence to identify perpetrators and develop strong cases against them that are fully prosecuted.
- Our members asked several questions about specific criminal statutes:
- Felony mob action: many members are familiar with this law from several years ago, when smaller, amateur groups were using social media to organize and commit illegal acts, particularly around Michigan Avenue. CPD is working closely with the State’s Attorney’s office to apply felony mob action charges to recent looting where it can be supported. However, CPD reports that the charge is less useful for recent events, because it is harder to prove the connections between this summer’s more professional social media organizing and the larger groups of individuals ultimately committing the offenses. CPD reports, however, that these recent offenses support more extensive gun and burglary charges that have higher penalties than felony mob action charges anyway.
- RICO: CPD reports that to prosecute an individual under RICO requires a very intensive case with predicate offenses, and it is generally more suitable to drug conspiracies than to charge a one-time offender engaged in looting. While it is still a tool CPD can employ when the evidence supports it, they are able to strengthen charges related to looting with other enhancements that do not suffer from RICO’s added burdens
Identifying New Response Measures:
- The City is putting into place rapid response measures through two city-wide teams and a critical response team, which will be able to lock down streets more quickly. These tactics include blocking and disabling vehicles as well as creating new hardened cityscapes (such as bollards and improved concrete structures) to limit movement.
- An additional 500 officers have been deployed to the downtown area in the 1stand 18th districts each day for the foreseeable future for all three watches.
- Launch of CPD Social Media Task Force: CPD is launching a specialized, 20-person social media review team to provide around-the-clock review of open source social media activity that could indicate plans for looting.
- Deployment of body cameras has been expanded to cover all officers in the field, to produce additional video evidence.
- Introduction of new laws: The City is drafting a new looting ordinance for consideration at the September City Council meeting which will create a new municipal citation providing CPD much greater flexibility in prosecuting cases and in confiscating cars and other tools used in acts of looting.
- Strengthening partnerships: Illinois State Police will be deployed to shut down areas of access to the city in an emergency, and Cook County Sheriffs will be immediately deployed to neighborhoods to assist in violence reduction efforts.
Maintaining Access: Several of our members raised concerns about their teams’ ability to get to their building in the days after looting.
- Work IDs: CPD does not believe it can implement a unified credentialing program effectively. To get through access points, the best material for employees to present is a work ID. If you are worried that your work IDs or authorization letters will not be recognized at the control points, please send an example of your company’s ID to CPD’s business liaison officers, who will distribute them to the checkpoints to clear the way. If anyone experiences difficulties gaining downtown access, they can also ask for a supervisor at the site who is able to resolve issues.
- 1st District Business Liaison Officer: Sergeant Carol Burns (312) 745-4295
- 18th District Business Liaison Officer: Sergeant Linda Aguilera (312) 742-5880
- You can find your district here.
- CTA Access: We requested that more predictability be provided for changes to CTA service after mass events, and that any ongoing street closures be designed to allow easier access by workers coming from train stations. The Mayor’s Office and CPD agreed to work with CTA on these matters.
Additional Communication Channel: Working with the City, we have created a new channel to communicate during mass events, and we will test it this weekend to evaluate its utility. Using Slack, which can be accessed for free either through a web browser or by mobile app, our members and their teams can participate in a chat room to receive updates from our Emergency Operations Center representative and from other buildings or security contractors as events unfold. We will also open the chat room to other downtown associations and their members. The channel will not be an official City service (and is NOT an alternative to calling 911), but City personnel will participate on the channel as well. The chat room is invite-only, and you can reach out to Ron Tabaczynski, Director of Government Affairs, for the link at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also distribute it to your security or other building personnel as you like.
Preparation for This Weekend: Though there have been some small social media calls for a shutdown of Michigan Avenue this Saturday, CPD’s intelligence teams currently do not anticipate a significant protest or shutdown to occur this weekend. The current plan is not to lift the bridges, limit CTA service or highway access, impose a curfew or access checkpoints, or otherwise shut down the central business district. The OEMC’s Operations Center will be live with all City departments and County and State agencies represented, and we will advise if anything changes.
Moving forward, we will continue our dialogue with the Mayor’s Office on these and other issues, so please let us know any thoughts or questions you may have.