Moonlighting Chicago Police will patrol McCormick Place

Chicago IL June 15 2016 Moonlighting Chicago Police officers dressed in uniform will soon be providing security at conventions and trade shows and patrolling the entire McCormick Place campus, thanks to an agreement advanced Tuesday in in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Orlando, Paris and Brussels.

Since 1996, the city and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority have had an agreement in place that allows a pool of roughly 135 off-duty police officers to patrol Navy Pier. Most of them have been in uniform. Occasionally, they work in civilian clothes.

They are “classified as McPier” employees, but are not authorized to wear their uniforms at McCormick Place.

On Tuesday, the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety signed off on a new and expanded agreement that will lift that restriction and dramatically improve McCormick Place security.

It will create a similar pool of 135 moonlighting officers—maybe more — to patrol the entire McCormick Place campus. That includes the new basketball arena for DePaul University that will double as an “event center” for McCormick Place.

Some of the officers will be paid $30-an-hour to work directly for McCormick Place. Others will be hired for the conventions and trade shows that fill the McCormick Place complex.

Mike Merchant, the former Chicago Housing Authority chief now serving as McPier’s director of intergovernmental affairs, said it’s a direct response to security concerns triggered by the wave of terrorist attacks around the world.

“There has been growing concern with security … given the environment that we live in … in terms of attacks and things that have happened in Brussels or things that have happened in France and, quite frankly, things that have happened in Orlando now,” Merchant said.

“Some of the largest convention shows have raised concerns about having a presence — an armed security force. … They asked us if there was something we could do to engage the Chicago Police Department to be present at some of these shows.

They’re willing to pay these officers for their service. … At our direction, the shows will able to hire them. We’re looking to have multi-layered options for them to have security maybe roaming the floor, maybe canine units. This will offer a host of options.

They will pay us and we will pay the police officers. Given that the campus is expanding, there will be times when we’ll have to hire officers as well.”

Read More