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As crime soars, Chicago Police Dept. creates special unit to monitor social media for looting

Will they actually prosecute?

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

As Chicago has faced weeks of increased violence and looting, the elected leaders in the Windy City have faced ongoing questions of whether they are capable of protecting the city's residents and businesses.

In an attempt to quell the public's rising concerns about the city's preparedness and effectiveness in combatting increased crime, Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) and members of city, state, and federal law enforcement announced a new plan to battle looting, WMAQ-TV reported Friday evening.

Social media monitoring

Lightfoot revealed that the Chicago Police Department established a 20-person unit to monitor social media activity that could give clues to future looting plans, WMAQ said, and will watch all open-source sites 24 hours a day.

"As we've seen over these past few months, social media platforms have repeatedly been used to organize large groups of people to engage in illegal activity," Lightfoot said.

Along with the social media task force, the CPD also created a Task Force of Detectives, in conjunction with the FBI, to focus on looting investigations. According to the mayor, the unit is going over video surveillance and compiling evidence to identify looters and put them away.

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx promised that people arrested for looting will be prosecuted and announced that just last week, 43 of 44 charges brought to her office for felony approval received approval.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said the city wants "to send a message."

"If you come downtown or to any one of our retail corridors in the neighborhoods of Chicago to loot, CPD is going to arrest you," Brown said, WMAQ reported. "If someone is attempting to break windows to loot, CPD is going to arrest you. If you're going in our stores that have been broken into in attempt to loot, CPD is going to arrest you. If you are carrying or transporting merchandise from a store that has been looted, you will be stopped and arrested.

"We are going to deploy all tactics necessary to prevent and stop looting," Brown added.

What's next?

According to WMAQ, the CPD has canceled all days off and has cops working 12-hour shifts. The outlet also noted that the department is increasing its presence by 1,000 officers.

"We've increased our numbers on the street, on the ground, in our downtown area, in our neighborhoods," Brown said. "That's the number one difference. We have extended hours that our officers work, we have extended the number of days they work in a week by canceling days off. So there is an increase of 1,000 officers above what would normally be here."

(H/T: Rolling Stone)

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