The head of Chicago's police union on Tuesday praised the White House's decision to relocate the G-8 summit that had been headed for Chicago, but said the venue change likely won't keep protesters from flocking to the city in May.
Fraternal Order of Police President Michael Shields said he was initially relieved Monday when the White House abruptly announced the leaders of the world's eight largest economies would be meeting at Camp David May 18-19 - not Chicago's McCormick Place, as had been planned.
"[But] will there be any relief from protesting? Probably not. And our officers are going to deal with what was anticipated initially with, you know, having G-8 still here," Shields said.
Shields had been opposed to bringing the overlapping NATO and G-8 summits to Chicago, citing a police manpower shortage and a lack proper crowd control training as evidence that the Chicago Police Department wouldn't be able to handle the hordes of demonstrators the world meetings usually draw. In a statement on its website, the FOP said its members are "pleased that our objections and concerns were taken seriously by the President of the United States," and went on to say that Chicago is not an appropriate venue for NATO, either.
"This is something that the Fraternal Order of Police has objected to since the idea came that they were gonna have both events at the same place, at the same time," Shields said. "And it's not good for the City of Chicago, it's not good for the safety of police officers. The whole idea did just not bode well for many Chicagoans."
Although a White House representative said President Barack Obama and his top aides have been considering the switch to Camp David for a few weeks, they don't seem to have consulted organizers on the ground in Chicago about the surprise move. Representatives for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, the summits' host committee and the Chicago Police Department all said they found out the news would be annouced just hours before the White House went public.
Nonetheless, the last-minute change will not affect the planning or preparation for Chicago police, the department said in a statement.
"Our preparation and priorities remain the same - ensuring the public safety of our communities throughout the city, those participating in the Summit as attendees as well as protecting the First Amendment rights of those who wish to exercise them," the statement reads.