Health and Fitness

CPD detective says police can’t do much about chaotic crowds but stand back and let things happen

CHICAGO (CBS) — A long, hot summer to come has not even officially begun yet, and we’ve already seen chaos in the streets.

Near North Avenue Beach on Wednesday night, large crowds were seen climbing on a Chicago Transit Authority bus, and later swarming a gas station.

That got us wondering about what police did to try to stop it all. CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek talked to a detective about the somewhat surprising strategy.

The detective, who did not want to be identified, has been with the department for more than 15 years. He says when it comes to dealing with big crowds like those Wednesday night, there is no real strategy coming from the top.

The detective said officers will step in if they see someone with a gun, but otherwise, he says they can’t do much of anything but stand there and let it happen.

Videos posted to social media show a big crowd at North Avenue Beach early Wednesday evening – with several people getting on top of a CTA bus while a group surrounds it.

The longtime CPD detective said police were aware of a flyer making the rounds on social media, promoting a North Avenue Beach Takeover. Still, he said the CPD’s response is often reactive.

The detective said by the time more police resources are sent, the group can already be out of control. On Wednesday night, the beach crowd spilled west on North Avenue into the streets of Old Town – gathering outside the Shell gas station at North Avenue and LaSalle Boulevard and climbing on top of cars.

Guidance came over police radio: “Whoever the people jumping on cars are, arrest those people. Arrest people that are jumping on cars.”

But even though a dispatcher radioed officers several times about making arrests, Chicago Police confirm only one person was arrested. Tremaine Patterson, 18, was charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct for fighting and ignoring officer’s verbal commands.

We asked police if any guns were recovered, and they said didn’t have that information.

The detective said while there may be some sense of direction among officers about how to handle a crowd in the moment, there is no clear messaging coming from the top. We asked Chicago police if there was a plan in place for how to handle last night’s crowd and what the department is able to do in this kind of situation. Those questions were not answered.

The detective says he believes this stand-back-and-let-it-happen approach stems from the pushback that former Supt. Eddie Johnson got for his strategy of directing crowds toward trains and buses.

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