Police promise more arrests when “large groups” disrupt downtown: “We’ll take the heat from it all day long.”

18th District Commander Daniel O’Shea speaks at a safety forum for Streeterville residents at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on May 6. | Sean Kennedy

By Steven Dahlman • Loop North News

Although frustrated with a seemingly lenient court system, the commander of the Chicago Police Department’s 18th District says arrests will be made whenever large groups of young people travel downtown to stir up trouble.

“We’ll take the heat from it all day long,” said Commander Daniel O’Shea at a forum on May 6 hosted by Streeterville Organization of Active Residents. “We monitor every…large group that comes down here and when we see criminal activity, we’re going to address it. We’re going to make the arrests.”

The most recent incidents happened on April 21 when eleven juveniles and two adults were arrested near the Magnificent Mile and in the Loop. On April 17th, Chicago police estimated 500 teens and young adults moved through the Loop, mainly on State Street between Randolph Street and Wacker Drive. 31 juveniles – 23 males and eight females, all of them 15 to 17 years old – were taken into custody along with six adults and charged with various offenses such as disorderly conduct, disorderly mob action, resisting arrest, and battery.

Young people fought among themselves and disrupted traffic. About 200 police officers were needed to deal with the crowd.

Of 21 people arrested near the Magnificent Mile on April 6, one was 11 years old. A 15-year-old girl was arrested for trying to punch a police officer. One teen brandished a realistic BB gun.

A real gun was pulled by a man, believed to be a security guard, on two younger men attacking him near McDonald’s at 10 East Chicago Avenue, next to the CTA Red Line station at Chicago & State.

According to O’Shea, police are monitoring social media, looking for signs that a large group is approaching downtown. If CTA personnel see groups jumping over turnstiles to get onto a train, O’Shea says they will be taken off the train at the next stop.

“Unfortunately, the Chicago Public Schools gives them [CTA] cards…to get to and from school, and a lot of them are using them on the weekends to come down.”

O’Shea says police resources have to be pulled from other neighborhoods to deal with large groups downtown.

“We want them to come down and behave and enjoy downtown just like everyone else but…they’re fighting amongst themselves for whatever reason. And then when we go to arrest [them] that’s when they turn and kind of take it out on us. But…we’re going to continue to overwhelm these large groups of kids…with police presence and we won’t tolerate any criminal activity.”

O’Shea says that in previous incidents, representatives of Chicago Public Schools had some success with meeting groups of young people at the CTA station at Chicago & State and persuading some of them to go back home.

Commander: Bail bonds too easy to get

O’Shea expressed frustration with Circuit Court judges giving defendants, both juveniles and adults, personal recognizance bonds, or I-Bonds, requiring them to pay nothing to be released but allowing the sheriff to collect a bail amount if defendants do not show up in court.

“They’re giving a lot of people I-bonds that should be sitting in jail,” said O’Shea. “We’re arresting people over and over again.”

He says police officers are frustrated with the criminal justice system.

“There is a formula for keeping the city safe and it’s not just the police department. It requires our partners in the [Cook County] State’s Attorney’s office, the Cook County Sheriff, who runs the jail, and the Illinois Department of Corrections. And when we’re on the same page, all four of us, the crime goes down. But unfortunately, that’s not where we’re at right now.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com