With dozens of events scheduled across the city this Fourth of July weekend, the Chicago Police Department is stepping up patrols.
The lakefront is expected to be packed with locals and tourists alike.
One of the main attractions? Navy Pier's fireworks show Saturday at 9:30 p.m.
You can expect to see more officers on the ground this weekend — on foot, on CTA platforms and on bikes. They will be patrolling not only downtown, but in all parts of the city.
"While I won’t give a number, we do have adequate resources where we need them," Chicago Police Supt. David Brown told reporters at the city’s 911 emergency center. "Navy Pier obviously is a focus. All of our high-violence areas — obviously the top 55 beats —are a focus, as well as areas within every neighborhood … [and] our downtown."
On the lake, the Chicago Police Marine Unit will be ready to be deployed for water-related emergencies.
The Chicago Fire Department is also adding resources this weekend.
While they are illegal to set off, paramedics treated 54 people with fireworks-related injuries last Fourth of July weekend.
"I want to remind Chicagoans that fireworks are banned statewide and the city also prohibits sparklers and bottle rockets because they are dangerous," said Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt with the Chicago Fire Department. "The injuries we see every year range from minor burns to catastrophic, life-changing injuries that include loss of fingers, damage to eyes, and even fatalities."
In addition, Brown is asking parents for help this weekend.
"Parents, please, please know where your children are. Participate with them in their enjoying the city," Brown said. "We need you parents, please, to help us make sure your young people are safe. In addition, don’t shoot weapons in the air in celebration of the Fourth of July. What goes up must come down. And those bullets that are shot in the air come down and can kill."
Officials with the city's Office of Emergency Management said they will be meeting with various city agencies Friday afternoon to continue enhancing their safety plan.
Last year, the July Fourth weekend was a bloodbath on Chicago streets with over 100 people shot, 19 of them killed. Thirteen children were among the wounded, five of them shot within a nine-hour period. Two Chicago police supervisors were also shot.
This year, the pressure on an exhausted and understaffed Chicago Police Department is intensified by a troubling surge in violent crime in the downtown area, even as tourism rebounds to some of the highest levels since the pandemic hit.
"It’s been really exciting to see the tourism, the people coming out, feeling comfortable, enjoying our city. Presence has been a big, big effort of ours for all of our tourism areas," Brown said.
"Perceptions of crime and safety are as important as the statistical crime and safety that we talk about every week," he said. "Declines in shootings and homicides don’t mean much if your perceptions of safety are not at a high level as well. So that’s where our efforts at presence [come in]. If you have noticed, we have several fixed posts. We have our blue lights on. We have officers on foot. We have officers on bike."
Last month, a divided City Council agreed to strengthen Chicago’s seldom-enforced curfew law — to 10 p.m. from 11 p.m. for young people under 18 instead of 17 — in a desperate attempt to stop an outbreak of youth violence.
The curfew crackdown is a companion to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s weekend ban on unaccompanied minors at Millennium Park starting at 6 p.m. every Thursday and continuing through Sunday.
On Friday, Lightfoot joined her police superintendent in preaching the same tough-love message to parents and guardians that they used going into the Memorial Day weekend.
"We want our young people to be able to enjoy all of the incredible opportunities for fun and safe activities that are happening all over our city. But where that begins is at home," Lightfoot said.
"So parents, guardians, caring adults in our children’s lives, have a plan for them this weekend," she said. "Know where they are and who they are with. Critically important."
The perception of safety on designated South and West Side commercial strips will get a boost from "street ambassadors" wearing "distinctive vests" and equipped with radios to alert their supervisors if they see a crime in progress.
If not, they’ll provide what Lightfoot called, a "friendly, welcoming presence."
"That’s another way we’re expanding the opportunity for public safety," the mayor said.
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Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.