CHICAGO (CBS) — Dangerous, illegal parties in hotels, businesses and vacation rentals.
CBS 2’s Tara Molina reports on the hundreds of citations issued by a special city task force, created during the pandemic.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Heavy Rain Causing Flooding, Dangerous Driving Conditions And Power Outages
The task force will continue that work, even now with the city fully reopened.
With a focus on preventing illegal, dangerous parties from leading to criminal offenses, something we’ve seen across the city throughout the past year and half.
A video from Lan’s in Old Town showed a pandemic party like few had seen before, spurred a lot of conversation this past winter.
It ended ended with an apology from the restaurant for what it called “desperate actions” with city restrictions ravaging the restaurants industry.
CBS 2 found, through a public records request, it also led to two citations from the city’s Large Gathering Task Force, for violating the city’s health orders.
A month later? Cited again, that time for smoking inside, and again, violating health orders.
They’re just a handful of the 1,018 citations issued by that task force, that started up last July, working with the Department of Buildings, the Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Police Department on more than 900 investigations.
Last July, in the early months of a phased reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, BACP saw an increase in reports of dangerous events, gatherings and parties, both at commercial and residential locations.
In response, BACP launched a Large Gatherings Task Force in partnership with the Department of Buildings, the Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Police Department.
The Task Force has cracked down on large parties and gatherings that were in violation of COVID-19 guidelines and often taking place at illegal locations, such as unlicensed warehouses or private residences.
“We saw a lot of illegal activity.”
Investigations the Commissioner of the city’s office of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Rosa Escareno said will continue now that Chicago has fully reopened.READ MORE: City Offering COVID-19 Booster Shots Starting Monday
“The mayor has been very clear about making our city safe. It’s not just the job of the police department,” Escareno said.
At crackdowns, like the investigations CBS 2 has tracked, at the Eurostars Magnificent Mile Hotel, illegal partying led to more than social distancing concerns.
In that case, he city found criminal violations, including:
“smoking of cannabis on the premises”
“aggravated unlawful use of a weapon”
“unlawfully possessed narcotics”
“criminal sexual assault”
And more, according to city’s office of business affairs.
“As we’re shifting away from COVID, this task force is about addressing problems and illegal activities,” Escareno said.
Not just at licensed businesses in the city.
CBS 2 found a large number of the citations issued by the task force this past year were for illegal, pay-to-enter parties held in homes, and vacation rentals.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Rain Continues Into Monday Afternoon; Wind Advisory, Lakeshore Flood Advisory In Effect
Now, the focus for this task force now that we’re fully reopen, working to prevent dangerous activity, in line with the preventative, community-focused approach we’ve heard from Chicago Police and the Mayor’s Office this summer.