CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - As Chicago’s LGBT community is gearing up for Pride Week starting this Saturday, many businesses are rethinking security needs and security experts are emphasizing the importance for everyone to be more vigilant.
“The reality is we are going to be vigilant, but we're not going to be crazy. We are going to be protective, but we are not going to be invasive to the point where were going to be affecting peoples comfort,” said Mark Liberson, Owner Hydrate Nightclub and other establishments on North Halsted.
What that means is bags may be checked, but patrons aren't going to be searched.
The Cook County Office of Homeland Security says there is no immiment threat to Chicago's LGBT community, but the key to keeping Pride Week festivities safe will not rest with law enforcement alone.
“Actually the public, folks with boots on the ground who sit next to these folks on the bus or who sit next to them in church or in a mosque, these are the folks who can really make a difference in preventing these things in the future,” said Ernest Brown, Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Homeland Security.
Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Office of Emergency Management and other agencies, is offering businesses training in what to look for in what Brown calls "pre-attack indicators."
For example, things like someone casing the establishment, taking pictures of security cameras, or other unusual behavior.
Security advisors say people in general need to be more aware of those around them who demonstrate anti-social behavior and regular bouts of anger. But that's not all.
“When you were going to a restaurant or another public venue, the best you can do is be prepared, to have a sense of your surroundings and it falls into the category of "run, hide or fight,” said Arnette Heintze, CEO of Hilliard Heintze.
What people should not do is live in fear.
“Every day when you walk out into the street, you take a risk and I certainly am not going to stop doing what I do nor would I suggest anyone stop living their lives,” said Liberson.
The office of Homeland Security reminds people that if they do see suspicious activity, or know of someone exhibiting erratic or threatening behavior to report it. The phone number for the local, non emergency “See Something, Say Something” campaign is 855-RPRT-2S4 (855-777-8274)