If needed, suburban police asked to volunteer to help Chicago

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Illinois State Police and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency are making plans to send additional law enforcement personnel to Chicago in the event a shortage of city police officers leads to dangerous situations.

WGN Investigates has learned a coordinator from the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) sent an email to a dozen police officials from Kankakee to Barrington asking them to ask members of their specialized units whether they would be willing to respond to critical situations in Chicago – and how quickly they could get there.

“To be clear, if members of the ILEAS Special Teams programs are requested, it would be for emergency situations, NOT for routine police assistance and the answering of calls for service within the city limits.  Illinois State Police and Cook County Sheriff’s Office would be tasked with the patrol needs,” the email read.

Illinois State Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Cook County Sheriff’s department already works with Chicago police in some targeted high crime neighborhoods. 

However, Cook County only has 300 sworn officers so their presence wouldn’t come close to filling the void that could be created if Mayor Lightfoot follows through on her threat to suspend the thousands of Chicago officers who had still not reported their vaccination status as of Monday afternoon.  

Not all suburban departments are ready to answer the call for help in Chicago.

“I will not send my personnel to Chicago unless an officer is under direct duress because I cannot support this slanted agenda,” Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain told WGN Investigates. “I also will not allow my deputies to be subjected to use of force in the City and be under the prosecutorial jurisdiction of the Cook County State’s Attorney.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has insisted contingency plans are in place should her threat to suspend Chicago officers for failing to report their vaccine status result in a shortage of cops on city streets. 

“I don’t engage in a lot of hypotheticals. Obviously, we have contingency plans in place for some time,” the mayor said. “What we’re seeing is the number of folks who are after being given the opportunities and direct order saying no is very small. I’m not seeing that there’s is going to be any disruption in our ability to keep our neighborhood’s safe, we have to keep plugging away at this that will play itself out over the next couple days.”

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As of Monday, only 64% of Chicago police personnel had complied with the requirement that they enter their vaccination status in the city’s online portal.

Chicago Police Union President John Catanzara has encouraged officers not to comply, even if it means they are stripped of their police powers. 

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