Alderman proposes terrorism task force focusing on vehicles

CHICAGO -- With recent terror attacks using vehicles to ram innocent people, a Chicago alderman wants a taskforce to develop a prevention plan for the city.

“We need to take action sooner rather than later,” said Ald. Ed Burke.

He introduced a proposal this week to convene a Chicago Vehicular Terrorism Taskforce with representatives from law enforcement, vehicle rental companies, and academics working together to come up with a plan.

“It would be a good exercise to have not only Chicago officials, but DuPage, Will, Lake and officials from surrounding states convene to share ideas and suggestions to hopefully protect against what is looming across our horizon as a serious terrorist threat,” he said.

Burke says the taskforce should analyze vulnerable areas and improve coordination between authorities and workers at car and truck rental companies. 

The proposal will need city council approval. 

Cities around the world are now approaching urban planning with preventing terrorism in mind. Similar deadly attacks using vehicles have happened this year in cities like London, Barcelona, and most recently on Halloween in New York City. 

At major events in Chicago, including last month’s Chicago Marathon, city snow plows are often used as an extra security barrier to keep vehicles from reaching crowds. 

Robert Pape, political science professor and director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats at the University of Chicago, says the taskforce is a great idea.

“One of the big things that’s important is how to create common knowledge about the modes of attack, the nature of the attackers  with law enforcement and local communities,” said Pape.