CHICAGO (CBS) — Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial summer kickoff and also typically when Chicago sees a spike in crime, but this year might be a bit different with the stay-at-home order. Beaches like North Avenue will remain closed, so the thought and hope is that violence won’t be as high with people at home. But police aren’t taking any chances.
“Large backyard barbecues will be scaled down,” said Chicago Police Supt. David Brown. “We won’t have any baseball either. Going to the lakefront for a bike ride or to gather with friends will be ruled out.”
As Chicago still grapples with trying to keep COVID-19 numbers down, they are trying to keep crime numbers down, too.
On Memorial Day of last year, at least 43 people were shot, seven of which were fatal. The year before that in 2018 39 people were shot, and seven of them were killed. And video shows on Memorial Day 2017 a beach brawl got out of hand on North Avenue.
This year those beaches, the lakefront and adjacent lakefront parks are all closed during a tempting weekend. So while they don’t expect to see any beach brawls during a pandemic, they will be patrolling on bikes and by boats just to make sure.
“We don’t want to enforce this order with citation or arrest, but we will in order to save lives,” said Brown.
“The reality is we are fighting two public health crises at the same time,” said Norman Kerr, director of Violence Reduction.
Chicago police will be targeting the days when we typically see consistent spikes in crimes: weekends in the summer. They say they will have special teams staffed every weekend to keep an eye on just that, with real time crime data starting Friday.