CPD ready to expand hours, cancel days off if Van Dyke verdict sparks protests

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CHICAGO — Police officials in Chicago said they are ready to expand hours and cancel days off if widespread protests happen after a verdict is reached in the Jason Van Dyke trial.

Chicago police officials said officers are ready to have their usual 8 ½-hour days expanded to 12-hour days, and that days off would be canceled for other officers.

Supt. Eddie Johnson told the Chicago Tribune the department is waiting until closer to the end of the trial to decide when to roll out those measures.

The superintendent said officers will wear their regular uniforms and will not be equipped with riot gear such as helmets, ballistic shields and masks unless it is necessary, the Tribune reported. Additional officers would likely be out patrolling on horses and bicycles.

The Chicago Fire Department is also preparing for possible protests.

In a memo issued Saturday, Fire Commissioner Richard Ford instructed CFD personnel to always take home uniform clothing and protective equipment until the trial is resolved. That includes helmets, gloves, bunker gear and masks. Fire stations are required to be secured 24 hours per day.

Relatives of McDonald have previously called for peace after the verdict.

“On behalf of the Laquan McDonald family, I am asking that peace prevail no matter what the outcome of the verdict will be,” McDonald’s great uncle, the Rev. Marvin Hunter, said in a statement.

Van Dyke, 40, is charged with first-degree murder, official misconduct and aggravated battery in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. McDonald was armed with a three-inch blade and trying to steal car stereos on Oct. 20, 2014, when officers called for a Taser. Within seconds of arriving on the scene, Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times.

Defense attorney began calling witnesses Monday with testimony from a longtime forensic pathologist and jabs at McDonald’s character. Court will continue Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, 2650 S. California Ave.

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