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Chicago summer safety plan involves community engagement, strategic police deployments

Mayor Johnson vows to advocate for young people as part of summer safety plan
Mayor Johnson vows to advocate for young people as part of summer safety plan 02:20

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The City of Chicago on Friday announced summer safety plans ahead of the holiday weekend – with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and Chicago Police officially activating their Summer Operations Center.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer with wild screaming beaches and packed festivals – and is infamous for being a violent weekend in Chicago. Last year, at least 53 people were shot and 12 were killed. But concerns about safety, of course, last through the summer season.

The summer safety plans are a little different from what the city has put together for summer safety in previous years. Specifically, city officials said they are being intentional with this year's plans.

The city's summer safety plan involves a $100 million investment from the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, a news release noted. It focuses on antiviolence programming, strategic police deployments and strengthened investigations, restorative justice, reentry services, and domestic and gender-based violence prevention and intervention, the Mayor's office said.

"I will not rest, and my administration will not rest, and everyone up here will not rest, until we tackle this problem and stop the violence," said Mayor Brandon Johnson. "Let us not forget that every single dollar invested, and every program launched - every initiative that is undertaken - is but a small step in a long and very difficult journey towards lasting peace."

The mayor was joined Friday by the heads of many city departments for the summer safety plan announcement at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Similar to what Mayor Johnson announced last year, the focus is on community engagement and programming to keep Chicago safe ahead of what is a historically violent holiday weekend in the city.

"The past year, we have made tremendous strides in our mission to secure our neighborhoods," Mayor Johnson said.

The Mayor's office said the safety plan is people-based – focused on those who are most impacted by historic disinvestment and violence. This involves outreach and intervention with people who have been subjected to a "repeated cycle of harm due to purposeful disinvestment," and support for the victims and survivors of violence, the Mayor's office said.

"We cannot ignore the undeniable correlation between violence and neglect," Mayor Johnson said.

The plan also focuses on addressing the root causes of violence through what the Mayor's office called "long-term, layered investments" in education, economic opportunity, housing, health, community environment, community violence intervention, and policing.

Chicago summer safety plan focuses on correlation between violence, neglect 02:30

Fewer canceled days off for Chicago Police officers

Johnson did not mention police efforts in announcing the plan Friday. But Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling did emphasize plans to be more deliberate when it comes to overtime and canceling time off for officers.

"We're dealing with human beings here who have families," Snelling said.  "Days-off cancellations? They're way down from where they were last year."

Snelling said some days off will still be canceled for Chicago Police officers, but they're limiting those cancellations as much as possible intentionally.

Snelling said officers will be stationed at all beaches - which officially opened Friday - and throughout the downtown area.

Mayor Brandon Johnson, other officials announce summer safety plan for Chicago 02:31

Police task force to focus on robberies

In a standout in the plan when it comes to addressing crime this summer, police announced a new task force dedicated specifically to robberies. CBS 2 has been tracking the increase and the often-violent issue of robberies in Chicago for years.

CBS 2 found Chicago's robbery numbers ticking up to a high not seen in the last five years.

Police said the team will be dedicated to cracking down on robberies spanning multiple districts. Patrol officers and detectives will be involved in identifying patterns and narrowing deployments.

"It's important to understand that in each district the needs are different," said Supt. Snelling.

Police this week already arrested a 17-year-old they say was involved in a large spree of robberies – almost all on the West and Northwest sides of the city. He is now facing 27 felony charges.

"This offender faces 25 cases of armed robbery with a firearm, and two felony counts of aggravated vehicular hijacking," Snelling said.

Mayor Johnson calls for bringing hope to young people

Later Friday, Mayor Johnson headed to Nat King Cole Park, at 85th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the Chatham neighborhood, for another summer safety event focused on community engagement.

"Make no mistake about it - we are going to do everything to protect our young people," the mayor said. "We're going to show up on the blocks, and we're going to look them in the face, and we're going to give them a little bit of hope – because there are too many young people that are on the outskirts of hope."

Community leaders explained that people feeling alienated leads to destruction.

"When people are uneducated and hopeless, you know, they tear down the place they live," said Sylus Green.

Mayor Johnson called community leaders to help keep the city safe this summer.

"I mean, you're concerned," said Marcus Weston. "You really want to give back to the community, because you hear not enough people my age are doing it."

"Anytime Black men get together for something positive, I want to be in the mix," added Green.

The full news release for the city's summer safety plan – with a breakdown of key highlights – appears below.

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