Updated 07/09/12 – 10:35 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Taste of Chicago opens on Wednesday, and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says he’s putting “adequate resources” on the streets to keep them safe during the festival.
WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, in years past, there have been violent incidents at or near the Taste of Chicago, especially after it closed for the day.
One person was killed and three others injured in a shooting at Van Buren and Dearborn streets four years ago.
McCarthy said things were under control last year, however, when there were no reports of serious crimes during the Taste.
“Virtually no reported incidents. We’re using the same plan as last year,” McCarthy said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports
The Taste of Chicago was downsized this year, from 10 days to five days, and was pushed back to start after the July 4th holiday, rather than ending around that time. The change was made to cut down on costs on an event that has lost money in recent years.
The superintendent said security for the festival is all about the plan – not the number of police.
“If you think about it, going into the Puerto Rican festival a couple of weeks ago, we were being criticized for using less manpower, (and) we had… a 60 percent reduction in events that happened during that festival,” McCarthy said.
He also overall crime-fighting strategy, despite a spike in homicides this year. McCarthy said the news media’s attention to violence in the city is a good thing.
“I’ve got to tell you, on some level, the attention it’s getting is probably a good thing,” McCarthy said. “It’s probably a good thing because there was a time in this city where people would say, as long as it’s not in my backyard, that’s OK.”
Violent crime in Chicago has been the focus of some of the TV networks in recent weeks, and Monday night the CBS Evening News will originate here – with crime as a backdrop.
Asked if he’s concerned about the city’s image – and the focus that a high-profile event like Taste of Chicago brings, McCarthy feigned a bit of a memory lapse about the NATO Summit in May.
“Everything is high-profile for this city. I think we just came out of a high-profile event. I forget the name of that. Oh, wait. There were some initials. I forget,” McCarthy said.
Police plan to use remote security cameras, more undercover officers, and some private security to monitor entrances for the event. Alcohol ordinances will be strictly enforced.
“We expect a fun and family event as we had last year,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to devote appropriate manpower and resources to ensure that that in fact happens.”
The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from July 11 to July 15. About 40 restaurants are participating, down from 59 last year.