- Created on 11 October 2013
CHICAGO -- CHICAGO (AP) — Fences are going up, streets are closing down and trim athletes are flying in from around the world ahead of Sunday's Chicago Marathon. But behind the scenes, police are preparing for what will be the most closely monitored race — the largest marathon in the U.S. since the Boston bombings — in the city's history.
Police have promised stepped-up security as 45,000 runners get cheered on by more than a million spectators along a 26.2-mile route through the city's neighborhoods. Officials are mum on details, but more than a thousand uniformed and undercover officers, along with far more bomb-sniffing dogs than in years past, are expected to mix with the crowd.
Inside a command post, officers will be monitoring images coming in from helicopters and some of the city's 22,000 cameras, the most extensive surveillance system in the nation.
"We are going to have eyes on the ground on just about every foot of the marathon route," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said.
Officers will be making more random searches of spectators' bags than they have in the past. For the first time, unattended bags will simply get discarded after they get inspected by bomb-sniffing dogs and are dubbed safe, McCarthy said. Friends and relatives planning to find runners in a designated meeting area will be subject to searches as well.
Runners also will see changes. They will only be able to use clear plastic bags issued by race organizers to store their belongings near the finish line. They also must pick up their own packets, with race bibs and tracking devices, instead of recruiting friends or family.
The days of spectators jumping in to run alongside friends or relatives also could be over. Police said they have never arrested anyone for jumping into the race before, but they warn that arrests are possible this year for anyone who doesn't leave the course when ordered to do so. And the finish line will only be open to spectators with tickets.
That, says runner Stacy Corbett, is a bummer.
"For slower runners like myself, you need the cheering and the pull of the crowd the last two-tenths of a mile, so not allowing spectators to be allowed at the finish is really disappointing," said the 41-year-old Corbett, who was a spectator at the Boston Marathon and was about a block from the second blast.
Runners who jump in to help encourage struggling racers are disappointed but know that Boston changed everything, said Mike Norman, co-founder of Chicago Endurance Sports, which has about 500 people running the race.
"Most of them, even if they're frustrated ... understand," he said Thursday. "They're not getting angry."
But the changes haven't dampened enthusiasm, added Carey Pinkowski, the marathon's race director. "I was at Boston, and by the time we got off the plane coming home runners were coming up to me, saying 'We're coming to Chicago, this is not going to deter us,'" he said.
In the wake of the Boston bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others, the Department of Homeland Security designated the marathon a "level two" event, a notch below massive gatherings such as the Super Bowl. That means more federal agents will be at the marathon, with their own high-tech monitoring equipment.
Neither McCarthy nor Frank Benedetto, the special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service who is coordinating government agencies assisting Chicago police, would talk about their tactics or strategies.
But security consultant Milt Ahlerich, a retired FBI agent who oversaw security at 15 Super Bowls as the National Football League's chief of security, speculated that most of the work has already been done.
"The good news is that we (law enforcement) know what we have to secure: a 26-mile route," Ahlerich said. "The bad news is, so does everybody else."
Ahlerich said a key component is gathering intelligence before the race, a job that became even more critical after the Boston Marathon.
"You worry about copycats who think if one group of people can do this, maybe they can," he said, adding that he was confident that Chicago and federal officers "have been developing intelligence, what is the chatter, is there someone out there trying to get us here."
Jody Weis, McCarthy's predecessor as Chicago's top law enforcement official and a former FBI special agent, speculated that the FBI was likely reviewing past investigations of people who engaged in suspicious activities or traveled to certain countries or regions.
"They can check to see if anything has happened to the individuals that we might be worried about," he said.
McCarthy wouldn't discuss what intelligence has been gathered ahead of the Chicago Marathon, one of five races in the World Marathon Majors, a two-year cycle of races with a $1 million purse split between the top male and female point earners. Boston, New York, Berlin and London marathons also make up the field.
Chicago's top cop would only say that work was being done.
"We are in touch with federal authorities to ensure public safety," he said. "There are no known threats to Chicago and the marathon at this point."
- Created on 10 October 2013
Photo: Illinois General Assembly website
CHICAGO - State Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, will host a Community Shred Day on Saturday, Oct.12, in the parking lot of the Lake Meadows Shopping Center on the corner of 35th St. and King Dr., in Chicago.
Mitchell is encouraging constituents to join him to take advantage of free document shredding and recycling.
The event is co-sponsored by the Quad Communities Development Corporation.
"This event will help protect residents from identity theft as well as help our environment by disposing of unneeded documents in a sustainable manner," Mitchell said. "As the holiday season approaches, I encourage all residents and businesses of the 26th District to take advantage of this free opportunity to clear out extra space before the temperature drops. It's important that we do our part to keep our community clean and clear of debris."
What: 26th District Community Shred Day
Who: State Rep. Christian Mitchell and Quad Communities Development Corporation
When: Saturday, Oct.12 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: Lake Meadows Shopping Center Parking Lot, 35th St. and King Dr., Chicago, IL
- Created on 10 October 2013
Police on Wednesday night released a man they had been questioning in their investigation into a series of sexual assaults in Chicago's Washington Heights neighborhood.
Police are searching for a man who broke into a home in the 10300 block of South Emerald Avenue and assaulted a 40-year-old woman and her 22-year-old daughter about 4:15 a.m. Wednesday, NBC Chicago reports.
The attacker entered the mother's bedroom and put a knife to her throat, a family member told NBC, and took both women's IDs, credit cards and cell phones before fleeing the scene.
In two other attacks police believe are connected to the initial invasion, a man broke into another home in the 10100 block of South Green Street and tried to assault an 11-year-old girl, according to DNAinfo Chicago.
The girl woke up to the sound of her puppy barking, CBS Chicago reports, and screamed when she saw a man staring at her from her closet. He then dove out of the girl's bedroom window when the girl's father entered the room.
Police say the same man next sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl who was on her way to school in the 10000 block of South Peoria Street.
A witness to the teen's assault told the Chicago Tribune he recalled the victim telling him, "'Why me? I get straight A's in school. I told him to stop. He wouldn't stop.'"
All the attacks took place within the same three-hour span.
The suspect has been described as a black, 6-foot-1 tall man between the ages of 16 and 22 years old and weighing between 150 and 170 pounds. He had medium-length black dreadlocks and he was last seen wearing a black T-shirt, baggy blue jeans, a light-colored belt and white gym shoes. Police have released an image of the suspect taken from a surveillance camera.
Anyone with information about the attacks should call police at 312-747-8271.
- Created on 10 October 2013
A Safe Passage worker manning a route for the Chicago Public Schools escaped unharmed after a car rolled up to her and fired shots Tuesday morning.
The 36-year-old woman, who was not named, was manning the route for Mollison Elementary School near 47th and Wabash when the gunman opened fire, according to WGN.
Chicago police said the incident was likely