Veterans eyed for NATO, G-8 security | WBEZ
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Chicago-area firms looking to veterans to help with NATO, G-8 security

Some private security firms around Chicago are looking to beef up their ranks with Iraq and Afghanistan war vets ahead of two world summits that are expected to bring multitudes of protesters to the city this spring.

Three large security firms and some corporations have reached out to a west suburban non-profit for help finding vets to guard downtown businesses during the May summits, according to the Illinois State Crime Commission/Police Athletic League of Illinois, the Oak Brook-based group.

"[Veterans] would have better restraint during the summits than most police officers due to the training that they had to go through during deployment," said Dan Elsner, who is with the commission.

The military's strict rules of engagement would allow vets to keep their cool if protests turn violent, whereas police might be tempted to fight back, Dan Elsner said.

"If you have a veteran who gets hit in the head with a bottle, his response is, 'There's a bigger picture out there,'" he said.

The veterans would be working exclusively for private firms and companies to protect businesses, and would not be in the thick of protests alongside government law enforcement, said Jerry Elsner, the commission's director. City of Chicago officials insist they will not be using private contractors to provide security for the events.

The push for beefed up security in Chicago's Loop comes as the head of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is reportedly warning downtown businesses to brace for an influx of protesters, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Summit organizers have been trying to tamp down speculation that the heightened security for the world meetings will only cause headaches for everyday Chicagoans. They say they won't know specific security details of the event until two to four weeks before the summits, which are set for May 19-21 at McCormick Place.

But businesses and private security firms will need much more time to prepare, said Arthur Hannus, who heads up American Heritage Protective Services in south surburban Alsip. His is one of the security firms that have reached out to the crime commission to help find new workers.

"You can't call security companies a week before the conferences and say, 'Gimme a hundred guys,'" Hannus said. "If they're gonna do it, they gotta do it in the next two to four weeks."

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