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Lightfoot Unveils New Task Forces; Robust Legal Action In Plans To Protect City From Looting

CHICAGO (CBS)-- Mayor Lori Lightfoot, alongside other city officials, announced city plans to protect neighborhoods and businesses after recent looting events. The five-point plan includes new task forces and deployment strategies as well as strengthened legal action to address looting.

Lightfoot said the new plan will incorporate enhanced use of technology and data analytics as social media platforms are repeatedly used to organize large groups to engage in illegal activity. The Chicago Police Department has created the Social Media Task Force, a specialized 20 person unit within the Crime Convention and Information Center.

The new strategy also includes the full implementation of body worn cameras  for CPD officers, including 500 additional body cameras.

"This is important to ensure complete transparency in the event of police involved shooting, or other incident, no exception, part two of this new strategy includes rapid and agile resource three deployment," Lightfoot said. 

Quicker deployment is another aspect of the new plan that will be implemented by CPD. Lightfoot said in addition, other city resources and officials will continue to intervene within areas such as traffic control. 

CPD will be partnering with community leaders who, Lightfoot said, can use their voice to speak out against looting.

Strengthening legal action is a goal Lightfoot said will be implemented throughout the new plan. The legal action strategy also includes the creation of a Detective Task Force on Looting, formed in partnership with the FBI. 

"The city is underway and considering new laws and regulations and enforcement, that will provide safety with greater flexibility and prosecuting cases," Lightfoot said. 

Integrated and faster approaches to geographic lockdown is also a key part of the plan, Lightfoot said. She said this includes CPD actively partnering with city agencies to deploy new and enhanced tactics to shut down targeted areas, including parts of the Central Business District in the event of loading. Lightfoot said this includes blocking and disabling vehicles. 

"I want to be clear, crystal clear, if you are breaking windows going in and out of stores with broken windows or looting stores, Chicago police will arrest you," Police Supt. David Brown said Friday. "If you get away from us, we will work with our state and federal partners to find you and we will arrest you."

Lightfoot said the faith and confidence of the city was damaged. She said there should never be any place where business owners and employees are afraid to go to work or where residents are afraid to travel and shop.

"It should be obvious, but let me say this loud and clear, no matter what an individual's life circumstances may be, it is never justifiable to take that, which is not yours," Lightfoot said said. "Any action that suggests that somehow the taking and looting is justifiable is simply wrong and I reject it."

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown on Thursday evening warned anyone who might try to loot or cause unrest this weekend will not get away with it.

"We want to send a message," Brown said outside the Chicago Water Tower on Michigan Avenue Thursday evening. "If you come downtown or to anyone of our retail corridors to loot, CPD is doing to arrest you. If someone is attempting to break a window to loot, CPD is going to arrest you. If you're going in and out of stores in an attempt to loot, CPD is going to arrest you. If you are carrying or transporting merchandise from a store that has been looted, you will be stopped and arrested."

Brown said police will deploy all tactics necessary to prevent and stop looting – such as deploying spike strips to puncture the tires of vehicle caravanning to an area to the purpose of looting. Two trucks could also be deployed to impound cars, and caravans of looters may be boxed in.

Brown also noted that the Chicago Police Department has set up a Looting Task Force and is working with the FBI to bring looters and criminals to justice – after a rash of looting early this past Monday morning in the Loop, the Gold Coast, Streeterville, the Magnificent Mile, River North, and the area around North and Sheffield avenues, among other areas.

A website for the task force was launched on Wednesday, and images were uploaded to it on Thursday afternoon, Brown said.

Police released photos and video of several looting suspects on both Wednesday and Thursday. Anyone who can identify them is asked to go to the task force website or call Area Three detectives at (312) 744-8263.

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