CHICAGO (CBS) — A long, hot summer has yet to officially begin, and we’ve already seen chaos on the streets.
Near North Avenue Beach on Wednesday night, large crowds were seen boarding a Chicago Transit Authority bus and then storming a gas station.
That made us wonder what the police did to try and stop it all. CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek spoke 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 that when it comes to dealing with big crowds like Wednesday night, there’s no real strategy coming from the top.
The detective said officers will intervene if they see someone with a gun, but otherwise, he says there’s not much they can do other than stand there and let it happen.
Videos posted on social media show a large crowd on North Avenue Beach early Wednesday morning, with several people climbing onto the top of a CTA bus as a group surrounds it.
The longtime CPD detective said police were aware of a flyer circulating on social media, promoting a North Avenue Beach takeover. Still, he said the CPD’s response is often reactive.
The detective said that by the time more police resources are sent in, the group may already be out of control. On Wednesday night, the beach crowd spilled west down North Avenue into the streets of Old Town, gathering in front of the Shell gas station at North Avenue and LaSalle Boulevard and climbing onto car roofs.
The guidance came over the police radio: “Whoever the people getting into the cars, arrest those people. Arrest the people getting into the cars.”
But despite a dispatcher radioing officers multiple times about making arrests, Chicago police confirmed only one person was arrested. Tremaine Patterson, 18, was charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct for fighting and ignoring the officer’s verbal commands.
We asked the police if any weapons were recovered and they said they did not have that information.
The detective said that while there may be some sense of direction among officers on how to handle a crowd at the moment, there is no clear message coming from above. We asked the Chicago police if there was a plan for how to handle last night’s crowd and what the department can do in this type of situation. Those questions were not answered.
Outside a community meeting Thursday night in Old Town about the riots, a neighbor, Joe Jacobazzi, said the biggest problem seemed to be that police had no plan the night before.
“I saw the riot last night, and it seems like the police are just reactive. They’re not proactive. They knew all about it ahead of time. It was on social media and there were flyers about it. So why not? Don’t the police have a plan ahead?” said Jacobazzi. “And more importantly, we are at the beginning of summer, so this will happen more and more. So I want to know what their plan is going forward and how these things will be addressed.”
One option, Jacobazzi said, is for the police to close off the beach.
“It could be closing the beach, okay? And saying, ‘Look, if you’re going to do this on social media, if you’re going to continue to do this on social media, you’re not going to be able to access the beach,'” he said.
The detective says he believes this back off and let it happen approach stems from the former superintendent’s rejection of him. Eddie Johnson got it because of his strategy of directing crowds onto trains and buses.