City ramps up security for the Taste

June 21, 2011

(WBEZ/Susie An)

The Taste of Chicago is opening this Friday, and the city is adding more security compared to previous years.

Recent robberies downtown involving groups of young people have police changing their strategy for the festival. Garry McCarthy is the city's police superintendent. He said there will be the same amount of uniformed officers as in previous years, but extra officers will take up support roles.

"Some of the technical assistance I was referring to will be manned by officers. And at the same time, we're going to have a deployment of plain-clothed officers throughout the crowd which for obvious reasons I don't want to give you those numbers," McCarthy told reporters at a press conference in Grant Park.

McCarthy said those extra plain-clothed officers will mainly be targeting pick-pockets and monitoring crowd activity. He said video surveillance will be ramped up, and police will also use a helicopter to observe the festival. Other security measures include bag searches at entry points and police presence at transit centers.

Unlike in previous years, the Taste of Chicago is being coordinated by the Chicago Park District. The festival runs from Friday, June 24 to Sunday, July 3. On most days the festival will last from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., except for the last day when it ends at 6 p.m. 

A Park District official said there will be no firework display to mark the last day of the festival. Instead, the district has scheduled a Disney performance to close out the Taste.

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