City agencies to conduct ‘safety drill’ Thursday evening, covering much of downtown

The city denies the drill is in response to recent looting, saying the drill “has been planned for weeks as part of our ongoing safety efforts.”

SHARE City agencies to conduct ‘safety drill’ Thursday evening, covering much of downtown
A Chicago police officer was shot Oct. 18, 2021, in Lincoln Park.

Chicago police will participate in a safety drill downtown Aug. 27, 2020.

Sun-Times file photo

City agencies plan to conduct a large safety drill Thursday evening that could block traffic in much of downtown.

The drill, set for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., comes after two waves of looting hit Chicago neighborhoods in May and August.

But the city denies the drill is in response to recent looting, saying the drill “has been planned for weeks as part of our ongoing safety efforts,” the Office of Emergency Management and Communications said in a statement.

Access will not be restricted and “residents can freely move in and out,” OEMC said.

The drill’s boundaries are:

  • South of Division Street;
  • North of 18th Street; and
  • East of Clark Street.

Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) criticized the drill’s focus on downtown since previous looting has also hit areas outside of the Loop.

“What is the plan for the rest of Chicago’s neighborhoods?” Lopez said on Twitter.

Lopez called out Mayor Lori Lightfoot for shutting down the Loop and raising bridges after a first round of looting May 31 while allegedly neglecting other neighborhoods.

OEMC spokeswoman Mary May would not disclose additional details of the drill, referring to a previous statement that said the drill “is part of the city’s ongoing effort to engineer security measures in order to mitigate risk to the Central Business District.”

“Critical infrastructure assets will be staged at various access points and the drill will be implemented by city personnel to ensure the safety of large public gatherings and heavily trafficked pedestrian areas,” OEMC said in the statement. “The focus of this exercise is to ensure the safety and well-being of residents, workers, businesses and peaceful gatherings.”

Agencies participating in the drill include Chicago police and fire departments, Department of Streets and Sanitation and others.

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