A Quad-City police chief is coordinating a statewide effort to assist law enforcement with this weekend’s NATO summit in Chicago.
Milan Police Chief Mark Beckwith is president of the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, or ILEAS, which is sending about 300 officers from throughout the state to Chicago, adding to what’s expected to be among the largest law enforcement contingents on hand in the city’s history.
“We have plenty of officers and deputies assisting our federal partners and the city with various tasks,” Beckwith said Friday.
He said he expects to be in Chicago today helping out.
Beckwith said ILEAS has been preparing for this weekend since President Barack Obama announced last June the NATO summit was coming to Chicago.
The federally funded ILEAS represents 98 percent of the state’s law enforcement agencies, or 35,000 officers, Beckwith said.
ILEAS is sending a handful of Quad-City area law enforcement officers and an armored vehicle to Chicago this weekend.
Rock Island County Sheriff Lt. Mitch Lee, as an ILEAS regional response team commander, is going to head up a tactical team trained in providing emergency services, Rock Island County Sheriff Jeff Boyd said.
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Rock Island County’s Bearcat armored vehicle will go with Lee to assist officers.
The Associated Press reported that at least one officer was assaulted during protests Friday. Estimates range from a couple of thousand to more than 10,000 protesters will show up in Chicago by Sunday.
“Our only concern is we wouldn’t need the Bearcat locally,” Boyd said.
Scott County has called Rock Island County for use of its Bearcat during at least one standoff since the vehicle was purchased in 2006 with federal money.
Illinois State Police also are assisting this weekend. Sgt. Tom Burek declined to say whether any District 7 State Police officers are going.
“We’ll certainly be involved if requested by upper command,” Burek said.
Beckwith said ILEAS has made preparations with the Chicago Police Department to assist in arresting, transporting and housing protesters if needed, although he couldn’t go into details.
Begun in 2003 with Homeland Security funds, ILEAS works on mutual aid response in assisting in large-scale events, such as this weekend’s summit, or major catastrophes, such as southern Illinois flooding last year.
Illinois is the only state in the nation to have a statewide mutual aid system. Beckwith, in his sixth year as ILEAS president, said he’s helping to create a national model that can be adopted by other states.
“We’re focusing on the needs of today as well as tomorrow,” Beckwith said.