The Taste of Chicago kicks off Wednesday and wraps up Sunday – making the event five days shorter than in years past. Although cut in half, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said today security plans for the event remain similar to last year.
Police presence is planned for inside and outside the event, McCarthy said, with undercover and uniformed officers working together to control crowds. Other than a few small tweaks and adjustments to planning, McCarthy said the enforcement plan remains the same.
Limited entry points and coordination between Chicago Police and private security also will contribute to event safety, he said.
"We expect a fun and family event as we had last year, and we're going to devote appropriate manpower and resources to make sure that happens," McCarthy said. "Last year we had a great event and our recommendation is anyone with an agenda for trouble should not come. They should stay home."
The Taste has seen bouts of violence in the past – especially when crowds flood the city for holiday fireworks displays. In 2008, one person was killed and three injured during a 4th of July shooting in the Loop -- only blocks from the event. As a reaction, police beefed-up presence in the years that followed and saw a drop in arrests at the 4th celebration.
Andrew Sisto expects to sling less Italian fare to smaller crowds at this year's Taste. But scheduling the famous food festival after the 4th of July could make the normally jam-packed event safer for all, said the Tuscany Café worker as he set up the restaurant’s outdoor kitchen today.
"People usually take off the whole week for the 4th, so I think we're going to see a decrease in attendance," Sisto said. "It's both good and bad. It gives police an easier job, but lowers numbers for us."