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Chicago welcomes National Homeland Security Conference amid summer of increased crime

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(The Center Square) – Chicago is host to a National Homeland Security Conference focused on public safety investments and new technology amid a summer of increased crime.

The three-day conference is hosted at the Hyatt Hotel in the heart of downtown and features law enforcement, fire rescue, EMS and emergency management officials with highlights of new equipment and technology in the field.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, who has received criticism in the past over his relationship with the police, spoke of the heroism of Chicago officers.

“You embody the very essence of duty, honor and service, dedicating yourself to a career far beyond the realm of a mere job,” Johnson said. “You are the tireless heroes that patrol the beats, investigate crimes and apprehend those who wish to cause harm.”

Crime in Chicago has increased by 37% since last year. Chicago Police Department statistics show an increase of 72% of total crimes over three years. The state has approved more tax dollars for violence intervention with $30 million for the Peacekeepers Program. The money comes from federal COVID-19 relief tax funds. The program looks for community groups with a “comprehensive approach to reducing firearm violence through targeted, integrated behavioral health services and economic opportunities.”

Johnson said it takes everyone to keep the city safe.

“Here in Chicago, we recognize that first responders alone can not create safe communities,” Johnson said. “In fact, it is my experience that we place way too much of a burden on our first responders.”

Johnson has seen multiple violent weekends since taking office, including a Memorial Day weekend in which 11 people were killed and more than 30 others were shot. Over the Father’s Day weekend, 75 people were shot and 13 died from shootings on the city’s South and West sides. In Roseland, a Father’s Day gathering resulted in a father of four being killed after someone shot into a crowd.

Fred Waller, acting superintendent of CPD, said this week’s conference gives Chicago law enforcement the ability to come together with other agencies to continue the work they’ve been doing.

“This conference represents a unique opportunity where we can all come together and collaborate,” Waller said. “I know that the men and women of the Chicago Police Department and every agency represented here today work diligently to help keep everyone safe.”

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