Elgin police chief explains why public was not alerted about knife-wielding man
Elgin Police Chief Ana Lalley explained on her weekly radio show Friday why a large and lengthy police response to a man who was threatening people with a knife did not qualify as a situation for the wider community to be concerned about this week.
Police shut down Willard Avenue from Bode Road to Chicago Street late Wednesday morning in response to a man threatening multiple people outside his residence with a knife. Police urged residents to stay out of the area through a Facebook post but did not send out a wider community alert as it would if there were an active shooter case, Lalley explained.
"Once the officers got there, the subject retreated into the residence," Lalley said. "At that point, it becomes a barricaded subject. What we then do is make sure the immediate area is safe. If we have to evacuate neighbors, we make notifications to schools, and then we call in our additional resources."
The department's SWAT team and officers trained in negotiations began working the scene and establishing communications with the man in the home. Meanwhile, other officers connected with the Cook County state's attorney's office to gain legal permission to forcibly enter the home.
Just before 7 p.m., after more than seven hours at the scene, police took the man into custody.
Lalley said the difference between a barricaded person with a weapon and an active shooter call is that the suspect was in a secured, isolated area and posed no larger threat to the wider community. At the same time, the police administration shares as little information about the situation with the public as possible to let people feel safe while also not revealing the tactics the officers are using.
"If someone was running around the neighborhood with a gun, that's completely different," Lalley said. "It's two totally different types of community notifications. We always, ultimately, will say what happened, but some of these things do take time to resolve. So thank you to the community for your patience."
Residents interested in learning more about how the police department handles active shooter cases, or how to handle such a situation as a civilian, are invited to a training session from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Heritage Ballroom.