More Undercover Officers To Patrol Taste Of Chicago

UPDATED 06/21/11 6:42 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — When this year’s Taste of Chicago opens its 10-day run Friday, officials are promising both fun and a safer atmosphere.

As CBS 2’s Jay Levine explains, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy is promising more plainclothes officers and video surveillance of the Taste grounds, in addition to a contingent of uniformed officers equal to recent years.

The stepped-up video surveillance can help deploy teams of officers to trouble spots more quickly, and McCarthy said the video also can be held for use in prosecutions.

McCarthy said the protection won’t end at the gates to Taste. In response to recent mob attacks downtown, he said police will set up “safe corridors” to and from the food and music festival.

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“We’re going to have officers posted in between the transportation hubs, at the transportation hubs, on the transportation hubs and in and out of the actual event itself,” he said.

He repeatedly refused, under questioning by reporters at a news conference at Buckingham Fountain, to give specifics about the numbers of officers to be deployed, saying that to do so would be “imprudent.”

“We’re going to be covering everything, that’s what it boils down to,” he said.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine was with McCarthy when he recently toured the Taste layout and began formulating the plan several weeks ago. During that tour, McCarthy was focused on Buckingham Fountain, where a lot of gang-related fights have broken out.

McCarthy said the recent Chicago Blues Festival was a dry run for Taste of Chicago security, and said incidents were minimal and that no arrests occurred.

The Park District is overseeing Taste of Chicago for the first time. It took control of the festival from the Mayor’s Office of Special Events in February.

Park District officials promise an emphasis on family fun, with a focal point being a “playground” complete with a 30-foot-square sandbox–large enough for kids and big kids.

McCarthy, Park District officials and Office of Emergency Management and Communications Director Gary Schenkel said firmly that Taste will close nightly at 8:30 p.m., except on July 3, when it will close at 6 p.m., preceded by a 3 p.m. Disney spectacular at the Petrillo Music Shell.

Taste was marred in 2008 and 2009 by incidents of violence. In 2008, four people were shut, one fatally, as the crowd that had viewed the July 3 fireworks show dispersed.

The city canceled the July 3 fireworks last year, citing financial problems. This year, there will be 15-minute fireworks shows at Navy Pier July 2 and July 4, sponsored by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which operates the Pier.

  • Get a job Tyrese

    How great would it be if the ghetto drifters stayed allowing the law abiding tax payers enjoy their day? Too much to ask in Chicago.

  • Tyreese

    The more police the better. Helps keep the black homies in line.

  • Citizen for a Livable Chicago

    That’s why the city should charge to get into the taste. Keeps the drifters out, but then they surround the event and still make it diffecult coming and going. Lock them up, lock them all up and start with the bucket boys.

    • Bravo

      Arggghhh… Don’t even get me started with those bucket boys. I think anyone that gives money to them deserve a swift kick in the shorts.

  • john

    Are these the same officers that were just transfered to Beat patrol in uniform from the mobile force? Will Rham count them as new officers… like he did when he took them off mobile and moved them to districts? Then transfer them back to beat patrol and count them a third time. No member of the media could ever think the numbers through; so why not. Keep transfering and recounting… soon 1000 additional… numbers only… no real officers.


    Just don’t go.Save yourself and family a lot of grief,money,and possibly worse.There are a lot of safe suburban fests to attend.Let the “WILDERS” wild against each other.

  • Truth B Told

    We haven’t gone for over 20 years. It is too expensive, people are pigs, and I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder walking to, at, and from the Taste.

  • workingman

    The city is low on money do nothave the tast, is the bad press and the police overtime worth it,

  • Buckwheat

    It’s not a matter of if it will happen, it’s a matter of how many people will be victimiized by sub-human black thugs. I can’t wait for more yuppies to complain about feeling unsafe, when they are the ones who keep voting for the Democrats who allow this to happen. Stop relying on the government to protect you. Start educating yourself on the 2nd amendment and elect politicians who will allow you to protect yourself.

  • Police Out In Force To Prevent Crime At Taste Of Chicago « CBS Chicago

    […] And police Supt. Garry McCarthy said earlier this week that the protection won’t end at the ga… In response to recent mob attacks close to downtown, he said police will set up “safe corridors” to and from the food and music festival. […]

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