Chicago police prepare for protests if jury finds Van Dyke not guilty

Jurors could begin deliberating as soon as Thursday in the Jason Van Dyke murder trial.

Police are planning how to deal with potentially angry protests if the jury finds him not guilty.

Some are threatening to protest if they don’t hear the verdict they want, meaning if Van Dyke is found not guilty.

In response, Chicago police officers are about to work extra-long shifts just in case.

The protests have at times been small, but consistent outside the Leighton Criminal Courts Building during the Van Dyke murder trial. Now, Chicago police are gearing up for large demonstrations if the verdict comes down and Van Dyke is let off.

Superintendent Eddie Johnson informed his officers in an email that 12-hour shifts will begin Thursday and all days off are cancelled. One police source told FOX 32 that detectives are being assigned to downtown and to report with riot gear if necessary.

After testimony wrapped up in court Wednesday, a group of faith leaders began to pray. They prayed for justice and peace.

“When we say peace that does not mean the absence of noise. It means the presence of justice,” said Janette Wilson of United Methodist Church in Fernwood.

Pastor Gregory Livingston says watching Van Dyke's trial has riled up the community, but that he and other leaders hope any demonstrations will be peaceful.

“We are advising people to stay calm, let's hear what the outcome is going to be, the reasons for the outcome and let's direct our energies into something that's construction and not destructive,” Livingston said.

Superintendent Johnson also wrote in his email: "No matter the outcome of the trial, remember that everyone has a right to their opinion. Do not let the negativity of others adversely affect you as you go about doing your job with the highest degree of professionalism and integrity."

About the potential protests, the president of the police union says, "We will be prepared no matter what happens and I think people will respect the rule of law.”

He goes on to say that "the police officer has every right that every citizen has."