* ISP Director Brendan Kelly spoke to reporters today…
Let me first just touch on really why we are here. Our fellow citizens our fellow human beings, wish to be heard. They wish to be heard so that action can come from being heard. And it is difficult to be able to hear them in a peaceful and productive way if that message and those voices are overwhelmed and drowned out by crime and by being hurt by violence, and by destructive activity and petty crime.
Director Kelly went on to talk a bit about what the ISP had done in Chicago and in Aurora.
Please pardon all transcription errors.
We’ve had requests for assistance from every part of the state. Obviously there was some activity in Springfield in Champaign, Aurora Rockford, other communities throughout the state that have called upon for the ISP to provide the systems, but also something called ILEAS. Not many members of the public may be aware of something called the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, essentially that is a mutual aid system that has been in place for some years for departments to provide assistance to other departments that may be overwhelmed by particular events, catastrophe, mass casualty type of situation or other events, which may require additional law enforcement manpower beyond what that particular community has. So, as these events unfolded over the weekend as a peaceful protest shifted to unfortunately some criminal conduct as we’ve been saying, there have been requests to the Illinois State Police request to ILEAS, and to some extent those resources and the manpower that’s been available has been reaching the point where additional resources have been needed. We’ve seen looting, we’ve seen thefts went to criminal damage and we’ve seen some Parsons throughout the state. And again, there’s not one particular location or one particular community in which this is entirely focused on it sometimes. We are very quick to say there’s a hotspot here or a hotspot there.
But frankly, the information that we’ve been receiving and how this process has evolved over the past 24 hours 48 hours 72 hours, has been that we have seen a number of individuals who are between the ages of 17 to 25, young people, communicating with one another on social media, targeting a particular business, particular retail, saying let’s meet at this location at this time. And once they reach a critical mass of people they find a way to break the windows, either using rocks or a hammer or picking up trash can or more location with a bicycle breaking those windows going into the business then taking as much property as they can in some cases, there’s some indication that maybe attempted to set fires in some locations, but as a process which has been repeated as the governor said today we are in close communication with our federal partners at all times.
The information we have consistently received from them and they’ll be approved and providing to them, is it does not appear to be yet, any indication of an organized structured group that is driving a critical mass of these incidents.
In large part these are, as described at that particular age group of people seeing a pattern and practice that they’re modeling after what they’ve seen on social media. There are people who are traveling around different communities they’re maybe not from that community, they come from different parts of the state. They are driving in their vehicles sometimes hanging outside their vehicles, waving signs, making gestures. We’ve seen people with bats and other types of items that are potential weapons, driving around and voicing their opinion with regards to law enforcement. But then some of those individuals committing the type of acts that we’ve been that we’re describing here that have resulted in looting have resulted in criminal damage to property theft. And the type of activity we’ve seen play out and Champaign, Aurora and other locations.
We’ve seen many ramp closures, more closures of ramps on interstates in this state than anybody can remember. We don’t have a record going back all the way to when interstates were open but it appears of the records that are available, including the collective memory of the men and women of the Illinois state police that this is the first time we’ve seen a point in our history where this many ramps to the interstates have been closed at the same time.
* More from Director Kelly…
We’re seeing activity today, but it is so far of a different tone and tenor than the activity that we saw over the weekend and we hope it stays that way. But in order to make sure it stays that way, there are steps that the governor has directed us to do. He’s very concerned that making sure that these peaceful protests are protected and that human life is protected, infrastructure is protected, that the livelihoods of so many people who are just struggling to get their lives back together now. After the first phase of the pandemic that that activity is protected, while people are practicing peaceful protest during the weekend.
* Types of policing…
While we have been responding to incidents, the division of patrol, crowd control group, SWAT, as well as the state bioterrorism Intelligence Center which is a component of the Illinois State Police that works with our homeland security advisor.
* Limitations of ILEAS…
But the way it works, essentially, is if your neighbor’s house is on fire, we all go to help our neighbor, put out that fire. The problem with the limitations of that model is if everybody’s house is a little bit on fire, how are we all supposed to respond to the one critical thing? So when we see these various brush fires, these small incidents being repeated in any number of communities around the state, all at the same time, it makes it very difficult for that process to work.
So, to respond to the governor’s concern that he has for protecting the people at the state and protecting property and human life and the right to be able to peacefully protest. I shifted some resources that we have within the ISP to be able to devote more human resources to the role of patrol.
He then went into some detail about what resources had been shifted.
What’s interesting to hear from the men and women who have been doing this for many years, people that are in all walks of law enforcement, is that this cycle of activity is is not like the usual cycle of crime. This is different than other protests. This is different than other types of flare ups that we’ve seen or other types of confrontations that have occurred in response to a particular event.
And what we’re seeing here is some factors that we don’t have any way to measure or anything to compare to. This is the first time, where we’ve seen a huge surge in the number of people that are temporarily unemployed. With the economy we’re hoping we hope that goes down but we’re at a point where that is a factor and we don’t know how that is impacting public safety. We’re at a point where people are coming out of the various phases in the first round of the pandemic. People that have pent up energy, they have concerns about their health, they have concerns about their economic future that have been impacted by measures that have been needed to protect public health. We’re not sure how that how that’s gonna play out yet in terms of public safety.
We don’t have good criminology and sociology numbers to compare rates of crime and the time those crimes that occur. The days those crimes occur what type of crimes would occur to compare to from the 1918 pandemic criminology sociology of prediction of criminal activity and being able to respond to that was not developed the way it is now, with last time we had a pandemic so that is a factor that is impacting the way people are behaving.
And again, we’re not quite sure how that looks. How some of the protests and the level of aggression, the level of violence that has mutated from peaceful protests, peaceful protest majority of peaceful protests to some things that really are distinct and apart from the peaceful protests. That’s not something that has played out in a way that it does. There are some consistencies with previous protests and previous response to these type of events, but they’re in terms of what time of night in terms of where and when it has been different in some ways, so because of that we have to take additional measures, we have to be different.
* Three regions…
The state police with ILEAS and with the support of the National Guard will be coordinated through three regions. During the pandemic, we have set up three law enforcement support centers, the Illinois state police have and coordinated with with guard resources as necessary and with at least some local departments, we are going to continue that model of having regional law enforcement support centers in the northern part of the state, the central part of the state and the southern part of the state. We’ll divide the state into three areas to be able to provide support and maximizing the additional resources that the Illinois State Police are bringing to bear and maximizing the manpower, from the Illinois National Guard, that will help us free up a local law enforcement in the state police to be able to focus on the needs as they arise.
* On to questions for the director. Asked about bricks thrown off an I-55 overpass…
I can’t talk about particular locations where bricks have been thrown. I can tell you that there have been examples of not just bricks but batteries, you know, rocks, things that are made of cement, you name it any number of objects that have been thrown at law enforcement vehicles, and I’m not aware of any civilian vehicles yet. It would surprise me if that’s happened in the midst of some of these riots, but we know that that’s a pattern of conduct that we’ve seen from some people that are taking again, a moment that should be about righteous justice and turning that into something that’s violent and just purely destructive so we the only state police have only had two vehicle, which have been damaged that were damaged by bricks, so far. I know that other departments have had vehicle set on fire. I’ve had vehicles taken damaged objects thrown at them, destroyed so that is a that is a phenomena that we’re aware, but that’s that’s specific case that’s not something I can comment on here.
He was also asked a question about Mayor Lightfoot’s criticism of CPD’s efforts over a week ago and declined.
* No more questions, so he concluded with this…
It is the duty of this department and this agency, as it is for all men and women who serve in this capacity, to be ready for anything. And we are going to be ready for anything and we are ready for anything.
I’ve asked for a list of communities that the ISP has deployed to and will update if I get one.