The Chicago Police Department is poised to cancel days off and switch officers to 12-hour shifts in preparation for possible demonstrations after the release of the Adam Toledo shooting video and the Derek Chauvin verdict.
Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) said police Supt. David Brown told aldermen during a briefing Thursday on police preparedness that he expected a tenfold increase in unrest this summer.
That would be monumental, considering the two devastating rounds of looting last summer that started in downtown, River North and Lincoln Park and spread to commercial corridors on the South and West sides.
A police source acknowledged Brown forecast a tenfold increase. But the source insisted Brown was referring only to the number of people he expects to flock to the lakefront after being cooped up at home for nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The police department is in the process of gearing up for the traditional summer surge of violence, still reeling from a 33% spike in homicides and a 43% spike in shootings in the first three months of this year.
But Brown’s most immediate concern is demonstrations he expects will come after the release of body camera and other video showing the circumstances of the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo March 29 in Little Village.
A screenshot of a message from a deputy police chief warned officers their schedules would be changed when the shooting video is released to the Toledo family next week and to the public after that.
“We are preparing for possible protests. Both Vice and Asset forfeiture will change their hours … and provide building security at Homan Square,” the message said.
“Also, ensure all our members have their complete uniform ready and available here in the Unit.”
Last fall, Brown defended his decision to strip neighborhood police districts of “four to six” officers on each watch to prevent a third round of looting downtown.
Lopez came away from the briefing with the impression that patrol districts can expect more of the same during the coming weeks.
“The superintendent said that everything that we saw last year we can expect it to be 10 times worse than last year. The fact that he’s bracing for things to be worse … while still implementing the same policy that failed our city last year really has me worried,” Lopez said.
Brown assured Lopez the police department would have the staff to handle both “planned and unplanned events” and maintain neighborhood safety.
“I told him that wasn’t possible because they’re already not doing it. They’re still taking people from our districts. Our officers are unable to respond to 911 calls because we can no longer maintain beat integrity throughout our city. And to tell us CPD will be able to manage both at the same time was just an outright lie,” Lopez said.
Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, said Brown opened his briefing by assuring aldermen no additional officers would be yanked out of districts to “cover downtown.”
“It’s very important that officers not leave the districts — especially those that have heavy retail corridors where looting occurred last time. We couldn’t afford to lose officers out of the 11th District with the stuff that happened, not only at Madison and Pulaski but also at Chicago Avenue and Kedzie as well as Homan and Roosevelt. Those corridors are harder to rebuild than what you can do downtown,” Ervin said.
“The destruction that I saw in West Garfield Park was crazy. I still have businesses that haven’t recovered from that.”
Zoning Committee Chairman Tom Tunney (44th) said Brown promised during his briefing to “retain the beat integrity and resources for the neighborhoods.”
Tunney said he was promised police would pay attention to entertainment districts along Halsted and Clark streets from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends and plan “additional surveillance” to crack down on speeding motorcycles on Lake Shore Drive.
Budget Committee Chairman Pat Dowell (3rd) said she urged Brown to be proactive in stopping “unauthorized pop-up parties before the crowds get too big.” She said she “got the sense they were ready” for whatever may happen this summer. But she said, “I did not get the specifics for my community, which is what I need.”