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CPD stresses readiness for Democratic National Convention as Secret Service boss visits Chicago

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As the Democratic National Convention draws closer, leaders of the Chicago Police Department and United States Secret Service on Tuesday again sought to highlight their preparation efforts ahead of the August convention that’s sure to attract thousands of protesters.

“With two months left until the convention, we’re finalizing plans and making sure all of our operations are safe,” CPD Superintendent Larry Snelling told reporters ahead of a meeting with Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle. “Make no mistake, we are ready. The partnership, collaboration and open communication between everyone involved is why we are ready.”

Cheatle at the news conference touted the links between her agency and CPD.

“We’ve got a tremendous working relationship with Chicago police, as well as a multitude of other agencies, both local and federal, that will be contributing to this whole-of-government approach that we’re taking” with the DNC, Cheatle said Tuesday.

The Secret Service will be in charge of security at the United Center and McCormick Place, where the official DNC events will be held. CPD will retain its jurisdiction across the city and be tasked with handling the expected protests. Other law enforcement agencies — FBI, ATF, Illinois State Police, Cook County sheriff’s police — will also assist.

Cheatle conceded that traveling in and around the downtown area will be more of a challenge for residents and those trying to get to work, but added that the Secret Service has conducted “an extraordinary amount of outreach with the local community and we’ve made very sure that the footprint that we have for security is as minimal an impact to residents, businesses (and) neighborhoods as possible.”

In recent months, Snelling has said repeatedly that CPD officers are undergoing First Amendment training to ensure safety and protect the rights of any demonstrators. Criminal activity, though, won’t be tolerated.

“We want people to express their rights safely and responsibly and we will protect them, but we are not going to tolerate crime, violence and vandalism,” Snelling said. “We will always protect our city we are ready and we will continue to be ready as we head into August.”

The superintendent added that between 2,500 and 3,000 CPD officers are receiving extra training to respond to potential civil unrest and protests. Extended shifts and canceled days off for officers are a near certainty too.

Along with the DNC, the department also faces the annual uptick in violence that Chicago sees each summer, though shooting levels are down so far this year. Over Memorial Day weekend, the city recorded nine homicides while more than three dozen others suffered nonfatal gunshot wounds.

 

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