In effort to tamp down shootings as historically violent stretch begins, agencies open ‘Summer Operations Center’

The center will operate every summer weekend, from 5 p.m. Thursday until Monday morning. The goal, said CPD Supt. David Brown, is straightforward: “Reducing murders and shootings this summer.”

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Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown and leaders of other city agencies announce the opening of the Summer Operations Center at Olive Park Friday morning.

Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown and leaders of other city agencies announce the opening of the Summer Operations Center at Olive Park Friday morning.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

With Memorial Day weekend signaling the start of Chicago’s historically violent summer season, city agencies are banding together in an effort to tamp down shootings.

To that end, the city has opened the new Summer Operations Center — a facility staffed by employees of the Chicago Park District, CTA, CPS, and the Department of Streets and Sanitation, among others.

The facility will be housed in the city’s Office of Emergency Management & Communications in the West Loop in an effort to streamline operations and resource deployment among the various departments and the city’s emergency services. The SOC will operate from 5 p.m. Thursday until Monday morning every weekend of the summer, according to city officials.

The goal of the SOC, CPD Supt. David Brown said, is straightforward: “Reducing murders and shootings this summer.”

Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown announces the opening of the Summer Operations Center at Olive Park Friday morning.

Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown announces the opening of the Summer Operations Center at Olive Park Friday morning.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Over the 2019 Memorial Day weekend, seven people were killed and another 34 were wounded by gunfire across the city.

The SOC bears a strong resemblance to the CPD’s Strategic Decision Support Centers — tech-based nerve centers in police stations across the city that allow police supervisors to deploy and re-deploy law enforcement resources in real time using a network of cameras and gunshot detectors.

The city has also partnered with anti-violence groups that perform outreach services to de-escalate conflicts that can lead to bloodshed.

“Hundreds of street outreach workers — professional men and women — will be converging in the communities they serve to keep the communities safe, deescalating violence, addressing conflicts and also educating the community around the COVID-19 crisis that we’re currently in,” said Chris Patterson, director of programs at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago.

Brown also said CPD officers will be on the lookout for large gatherings flouting social distancing guidelines.

“We’re here, as a police department, to save lives,” Brown said. “We don’t want to enforce this order with citations or arrest, but we will in order to save lives.”

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