CITY HALL — Last year, over the long Fourth of July weekend, 13 people in Chicago were killed and 70 were wounded.
This year, "it's all hands on deck" for the Chicago Police Dept. to avoid a repeat, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said.
McCarthy's boss, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, called together his Cabinet Tuesday to put together a "coordinated plan" to avert similar Fourth of July weekend violence.
"We had a very good meeting to go over the safety plan for the city for the weekend," Emanuel said Tuesday in a City Hall news conference. "Our goal is to get ahead of it.
"This weekend is a family-friendly weekend for the City of Chicago," the mayor insisted, pointing to both baseball teams, the Cubs and White Sox, being in town, as well as the Grateful Dead playing its "Fare Thee Well" set of three final concerts at Soldier Field, fireworks at Navy Pier and other neighborhood events.
Emanuel called for "safety in the neighborhoods" over the weekend. He said his administration was out to "secure every part of the city ... so people can enjoy the Fourth with their family."
Yet he also called on his Cabinet officers to "make sure we have a coordinated plan" to avert last year's violence, which began with July Fourth falling on a Friday rather than on a Saturday like this year.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy confirmed that Friday and Saturday nights are the worst times for street violence and said his force would be "ratcheting up our presence ... to provide a safe environment."
According to McCarthy, they'll be extending police shifts to 12 hours over the four-day weekend through Monday, which will free the third shift to be "layered" and deployed as reinforcements wherever they might be called for.
"The entire department will be out, we'll be out in uniform," McCarthy said. He warned that officers would be "aggressively enforcing park violations," such as public drinking, to maintain order.
"We'll have a great, successful weekend," McCarthy added.
Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago also warned city residents to "leave the fireworks to licensed professionals," adding, "Our goal is to have no injuries this Fourth of July."
Emanuel said it wasn't just being left to the Police and Fire departments, but that the Chicago Park District and Chicago Housing Authority were also being challenged to look for historic flash points where Fourth of July violence has sparked and address that ahead of any recurrence.
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