For the second night in a row, significant numbers of Chicago police officers Thursday will be ordered out of North Side neighborhoods to conduct so-called “public health dispersals” on the city’s West Side.
The real motive behind the sweeps? To reduce shootings and homicides.
Ten officers and one sergeant will be deployed to the Austin neighborhood from each of the seven police districts that stretch from Division Street to the city’s northern limits and from O’Hare to Lake Michigan, according to memo from CPD Area North Deputy Chief of Operations Ernest Cato. A source provided the memo to CWBChicago.
The officers will spend two hours shooing citizens off of the public way near Cicero and Madison streets beginning at 6 p.m., according to the memo. Then, the cops will relocate to the Portage Park parking lot for an hour before re-deploying for a second round of “public health enforcement” near Laramie and Gladys avenues between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., the memo said.
Chicago cops are expressing concerns about Cato’s tactics. Several have told CWBChicago they believe the sweeps are unconstitutional harassment of citizens who are doing nothing illegal.
Last night, Cato ordered more than 70 North Side officers to “drive around with emergency lights and sirens activated,” while running people off of the public way under the guise of “public health enforcement” due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Earlier this month, the 11th District commander ordered officers to demand identification from anyone who tried to enter four residential streets in the area. The Sun-Times reported Harrison District Cmdr. Darrell Spencer told officers that “only people who live on those blocks would be able to enter them.”
Just hours before legions of officers swept citizens from their West Side streets on Wednesday, Brown was sworn in as Chicago’s newest police superintendent. Brown yesterday told the city to “buckle your seatbelts, we’re headed to the moon” as he promised Chicagoans would have the “highest level of trust in its officers from its residents.”
Cato was a finalist for the superintendent’s job.