Breaking: CPD again sending droves of North Side cops to run citizens off West Side streets

A line of police units “babysits” a Garfield Park corner during a thinly-disguised “coronavirus mission” Wednesday night. | Provided

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 police leaders stand in a group, many without face masks, as they supervise a “coronavirus mission” on the West Side last night. | Provided

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.”

Dozens of police units were reassigned Wednesday night from the red areas to focus on a two-block square section of the green area, according to sources.

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.

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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