MAGNIFICENT MILE — The Mag Mile is getting a security upgrade as more police officers will now patrol around the tourist-heavy shopping area.
Northwestern University Police Department officers will help patrol East Chestnut Street to East Ontario Street and North Michigan Avenue to North Lake Shore Drive. The effort came after Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) “expressed concern over a rash of burglaries along the Mag Mile” earlier this year, according to an email newsletter from Hopkins.
“Given the city’s strained police resources, Aldermen Hopkins and Reilly began advocating for creative tools to supplement the Chicago Police Department’s good work,” according to Hopkins’ email.
The change comes after more than 20 teens were arrested while gathering Downtown during spring break for Chicago Public Schools. Police told NBC Chicago the group had been “engaging in criminal behavior,” but the arrests sparked debate over how large groups of teens are treated in the Downtown area.
But Hopkins told Block Club Chicago the expanded patrol wasn’t negotiated “in response to any specific incident” and is just part of an effort to “make better use of sworn police officers who are working in the neighborhood.”
Northwestern University Police typically has about five officers and two cars patrolling within its boundaries 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Hopkins’ email. Those officers will now also issue Moving Violation traffic citations and can speak with Chicago Police officers through their police radios, which they’d been unable to do before.
“The Magnificent Mile Association encourages our member businesses to remain vigilant as we head into the busy summer months,” said association chairman Rich Gamble in a statement. “We continue to monitor all criminal activity within The Magnificent Mile district, and we appreciate an enhanced police presence in the district when necessary.”
Hopkins, Reilly, Northwestern Police and the Chicago Police Department negotiated the help with patrolling over the course of a year. The effort was first proposed in 2017 and had been supported by Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was shot dead in February 2018 while walking to a meeting between officials to discuss the initiative.
Officials shelved the effort out of respect for Bauer before returning to negotiations earlier this year.