Worried about potential looting, jittery Chicago police leaders order district cops to the Mag Mile again

Chicago — Jittery police leaders, worried about the potential for another round of organized looting in downtown Chicago, reassigned tactical units from several local districts to sit on the Magnificent Mile and Oak Street shopping corridors overnight, according to law enforcement sources.

CPD brass ordered district units to downtown in light of overall tension following the murder of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers and two specific local incidents: a raid on the Canada Goose store near Chicago’s historic Water Tower yesterday morning and a failed attempt by thieves to crash a U-Haul truck into a South Side cellular store over the weekend.

An unmarked Chicago police unit sits in the median of Michigan Avenue on the Magnificent Mile on January 31, 2023. | George Mycyk

George Mycyk, a news photographer for NBC Chicago, tweeted that he saw “at least 15 squads parked on or near Michigan Ave between Wacker Drive and Oak Street” early Tuesday.

CWB Chicago confirmed that tactical units from the Lakeview-based Town Hall (19th) District were posted outside the Shops at North Bridge shopping mall, 520 North Michigan. Tactical officers from the Logan Square-based Shakespeare (14th) District were ordered to sit on the high-end Oak Street corridor between the Mag Mile and Rush Street. Several other districts also sent officers to the area.

Earlier this month, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot flatly denied that the police department took officers from neighborhood districts to protect downtown.

“This notion that somehow you all are starved for resources, that we’re sending everything to downtown… is just not so,” Lightfoot told a North Side business group, according to Block Club Chicago.

Despite the mayor’s claim, CPD has regularly moved officers from districts to the downtown since waves of looting and riots overran the area in May, June, and August 2020. As recently as last week, squad cars from across the city conducted drills to practice their ability to get downtown quickly.

Spokespersons for Lightfoot and the Chicago Police Department did not respond to questions about Tuesday’s deployments.

Update: In a statement on Wednesday morning, sent 22 hours after this story was published, a CPD spokesperson said, “The Chicago Police Department regularly reviews and adjusts personnel citywide to ensure districts across the city have sufficient staffing. The Department is not taking resources out of the districts to deploy downtown. Any additional resources being deployed to the central business district are overtime initiatives.”

CWB Chicago was told directly by two officers involved in Tuesday’s Magnificent Mile deployments that they were sent there as part of their regularly-scheduled shifts.

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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