Residents urged to be prepared and stay out the way

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A security expert stressed residents and those coming in town to keep a distance from the protests expected outside the 2012 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit this weekend at McCormick Place.

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A security expert stressed residents and those coming in town to keep a distance from the protests expected outside the 2012 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit this weekend at McCormick Place.

Chicago security expert Richard Wooten is urging spectators to stay clear of the protests to avoid being mistaken as radicals and arrested.

Wooten –– a police officer and military veteran who is the President of the Wooten Protective Services –– said it may be difficult for law enforcement officials to distinguish a spectator from a protestor.

“Within the ranks of protesters, you also have radicals out there who are utilizing the protests to enforce their desires to be destructive. Ninety-eight percent of the protesters are just out there expressing their freedoms, but there will be two percent creating havoc,” said Wooten.

He provided a scenario of how some spectators could inadvertently become part of the problem and risk being arrested.

“They will arrive on the site of a protest to see what is going on and authorities will order them to move along,” he said. “The spectators then believe their rights are being violated, and become agitated. This will create more of a problem for police, now placing them in the category of what the police department has established as an agitator. If the spectators refuse to move, they can be detained by authorities.”

The Chicago Police Department will be getting a hand from out-of-state officers during the upcoming NATO summit, which is expected to draw protesters to the city.

Department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton says officers from Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., will be in Chicago to help.

That’s in addition to Illinois State Police troopers and officers from suburban Chicago who’ve been asked to supplement Chicago’s police force. Members of the Illinois National Guard will also be on hand.

These security measures are expected to create major inconveniences for businesses as well as commuters.

Wooten also advises residents to take precautions and to maneuver around the centralized areas if possible, because they might not have sufficient information regarding travel restrictions.

Parking restrictions will be in effect from 22nd to 26th Street on King Dr. and several other surrounding streets will also have restrictions.

The South Shore commuter railway in northern Indiana is making changes in stops and rules because of the NATO summit this weekend in Chicago.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District says all passengers traveling on Sunday and Monday can expect rigorous security checks at stations and significant delays en route for screening. All westbound trains will go through a full stop and individual screening at Hegewisch Station in Chicago. Law enforcement officers with canine units will be at all security checkpoints.

Several stops in Chicago will be closed Saturday through Monday and some trains will be canceled.

Riders may carry only one bag. Boxes, parcels, luggage, backpacks and bicycles will not be allowed on trains. Riders will not be allowed to carry food or liquid on the trains.

“It’s best to travel a quarter mile south, west and north of the summit to avoid havoc. Take care of your business outside of the area and maneuver around it if you can. You will reduce your stress level,” he said.

Most city and state government offices in the downtown area will be closed on Friday and Monday.

Chicago police are planning a range of tactics — some old, some new — to control protests outside the summit. A look at some crowd-control techniques and the department’s position on them:

EXTRACTION: Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says officers will attempt to extract individual lawbreakers from crowds to keep problems from escalating. He says the department does not want to disperse crowds.

CUT TEAMS: These teams will be dispatched to separate protesters who have chained themselves to each other in so-called "sleeping dragon" maneuvers to block vehicle or pedestrian traffic.

SOUND CANNONS: Long-range acoustical devices (LRADs) emit ear-piercing noise to paralyze or disperse crowds. McCarthy says he intends to use the devices only to get protesters’ attention so police can better communicate with them.

TEAR GAS/PEPPER SPRAY: McCarthy has publicly raised doubts about the effectiveness of tear gas as a crowd control tool. Each officer will be equipped with pepper spray, but McCarthy says it should be used only to thwart assaults on officers.

CORRALING: Police sometimes surround a crowd so no one can move, a method known as "kettling." Chicago officers detained hundreds of people this way during an Iraq war protest in 2003 and recently paid more than $6 million to settle resulting lawsuits.

BICYCLES: Officers use their bikes for mobility but also to create a barrier to crowd movements. Chicago police used this tactic during a recent May Day march.

WARNINGS: During an Occupy protest last year, police methodically issued warnings to individuals and groups of protesters before making arrests. McCarthy says that method again will be used, if possible.

SHIFTS: Police will rotate officers off the front lines to guard against frayed nerves and fatigue that might contribute to confrontations with protesters.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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