Nearly a year after the mass shooting at the 4th of July parade in Highland Park, several police departments in the Chicago area said they plan to increase the number of officers working Memorial Day parades and ceremonies this year.
[ Highland Park parade shooting: What we know about the victims, suspect, community and aftermath ]
Sergeant Joe Murphy of the Arlington Heights Police Department said the tragic events at Highland Park have made the city take a closer look at public safety planning for all community events, including its Memorial Day parade.
“Members of the police department, fire department, public works and village administration are working closely with the parade organizers to ensure that we are hosting an event with safety,” Murphy said.
One change guests may notice at Memorial Day events is increased staffing levels, he said. He said additional officers would be present at events this summer and the number of observers would increase, but other updated safety measures may be overlooked.
Over the past year, the community’s fire and police departments have been training together and creating large-scale community events focused on active shooter and safety. The departments have reviewed reports detailing public safety responses to other violent incidents, according to Murphy, and the Arlington Heights Police Department has incorporated those recommendations into its training and operations.
Murphy said that despite the recent mass shooting, the village encourages community members to continue participating in events such as Memorial Day.
“The Village of Arlington Heights prioritizes the safety and well-being of its residents and visitors,” he said. “We recognize the responsibility of public safety to provide a safe environment for our community to come together and show our respect for the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces, in particular, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. “
About 30 officers will be deployed to the city’s Memorial Day parade for security, Commander Miccos Williams of the Naperville Police Department said. He said police would close roads and check rooftops along the parade route, as they have done for years.
A new tool for the department this season, however, is its tethered drone, Williams said. He said tethered drones would allow police to identify potential threats from an aerial view.
“(Tethered drones) give you the advantage of being able to see something that isn’t visible just ahead of time,” he said.
Williams said the department plans to use drones for most of its special events.
Apart from this, he said that the attitude of the department is largely the same as in the previous years.
Williams said, “We’re always prepared for the worst-case scenario because parades are certain types of special events that are vulnerable to any type of attack, whether it’s a mass shooting or any type of terrorist.” attack.” “So our approach really hasn’t changed much.”
Park Ridge’s Memorial Day parade will also have a major police presence and other precautions this year.
[ Park Ridge plans Memorial Day Parade with focus on security ]
“I think it is safe to say that all local police departments are looking at public gatherings and parades differently since the Highland Park tragedy,” Park Ridge Police spokesman Tom Gadomski told The Pioneer Press in an email. “That being said, we are taking extra precautions including an extra presence of our officers throughout the parade route.”
Organized by the Chicago Police, Fire Department and Emergency Management and Communications Press conference in early May to discuss security plans for the city’s special events during the summer months.
Chicago Police Department Patrol Chief Brian McDermott said the department will address public safety concerns raised by the community around large gatherings this summer.
The city’s Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony will be held this Saturday at Daley Plaza. Following the event, a parade will travel down State Street from Lake Street to Van Buren Street.
McDermott did not share specific plans set for Memorial Day, but he said the Counterterrorism Bureau, Crime Prevention and Information Center and the Strategic Decision Support Center will be monitoring parade-like events in real time to deploy resources. in a timely manner in case of emergency.
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Jose Tirado, interim executive director of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, shared that the city’s Summer Operations Center was activated for the season.
The central department facilitates coordination when it comes to deploying resources for violence prevention, and when the center operates, there are daily calls between all agencies to share information, she said.
Earlier this year, he said, the office released an app that provides users with emergency alerts, weather reports and incident information. During the event of an emergency at a large community gathering, the app will push notifications alerting users to the danger.
First Deputy Fire Commissioner Mary Sheridan During the press conference, acknowledged Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer and shared their hopes for a safe summer for all.
“We are looking forward to warmer weather like our residents,” she said. “We know that all Chicagoans want to get outside and enjoy the beaches and parks, and we will help ensure their safety.”
Caroline Kubzansky of Pioneer Press contributed.