Reporting Suzanne Le Mignot
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CHICAGO (CBS) – As many as 2 million people were expected to take in the Chicago Air & Water Show on Saturday and Sunday and that means a big job for Chicago police.
As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, some officers are working 13 hours each day because of the event. Others are beginning as early as 6 a.m. to start patrolling the lakefront.
Friday was practice day for the Air & Water Show, but for Chicago police officers, the practice run was just like the real deal.
Sources said that gang officers would be saturating the lakefront along with officers from different areas and districts.
Officers and ambulances also were being positioned at various locations at Oak Street Beach, along Inner Lake Shore Drive and under several viaducts.
Tactical officers were being deployed at Oak Street Beach as well.
Anne Schmitt, who was out at the lakefront watching Friday’s rehearsals, said that, “just having the presence, people act differently and I think they know that it’s a safe place to go.”
At North Avenue Beach, high-ranking officers were part of the foot patrol on Friday and police and paramedic bike units were patrolling along with the full mounted unit.
Sources said officers have been told to be diligent – if they see a situation where crowds are gathering and there’s the potential for trouble, the situation needs to be handled immediately.
Police don’t want a repeat of the mob attacks that plagued North Avenue Beach on Memorial Day.
“I appreciated them being here, because I don’t want to be a part of that and I don’t think our lakefront should be a part of that,” Monica Blake said.
To accommodate the massive police presence, sources said that officers have had their weekend days off cancelled.
Police presence won’t be limited to land. The police department’s Marine unit, along with the Coast Guard and officers from the Illlinois Department of Natural Resources, are patrolling the waters to make sure people are boating responsibly.
Marine police say they’ll be looking for boaters who are violating any laws, especially those who are drinking because most of the drownings and accidents on the lake involve the use of alcohol.
“It’s very important that they’re out there because it does maintain control,” boater John Brazill tells CBS 2′s Mai Martinez.
Karen Vaughan, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events said there would be an additional $100,000 in service costs to cover police, fire and traffic costs at the Air & Water Show. Ninety percent of that would be covered by the event sponsors.
The $580,000 produciton cost of the show is also picked up by sponsors.
The most recent figure for the economic impact that the annual event has on the city is from 2008. Back then, the Air & Water Show brought in an additional $52 million to the city, according to Vaughan.