National Guard troops helping Schaumburg, Aurora police
Illinois National Guard troops are assisting police in Schaumburg and Aurora amid concerns with vandalism and looting that has occurred in some towns.
Lt. Col. Brad Leighton, director of public affairs for the Illinois National Guard, said the troops are doing "critical site security" at Woodfield Mall and at spots in Aurora.
"We're supporting local law enforcement" Leighton said. "We're basically doing tasks that help free up police to do the actual law enforcement."
The Guard started providing a security presence at Woodfield and in Aurora on Wednesday night.
An Aurora police spokesman said the troops were called in "to assist the regional operations center and response in the region."
Gov. J.B. Pritzker initially called up 375 National Guard members to help keep the peace in Chicago after a protest over the killing of George Floyd turned violent. An additional 250 troops were activated to assist in communities beyond Chicago.
Troops are sent to a municipality at the request of the local police department, which then decides how they are used.
"Whenever the Guard mobilizes for domestic operations, we fall under a civilian incident commander," Leighton said. "It's the local person that basically is the boss."
In this case, the incident commander is a police officer.
Leighton stressed the troops aren't a replacement for police officers and are limited in what they can do.
"We're not on the front lines. Law enforcement is on the front lines," Leighton said. "We're providing additional support for law enforcement to help free them up to do their jobs, because there's only so many law enforcement officers to go around."
He declined to say how many troops are in Schaumburg and Aurora. But he said they will remain "until we're told not to be there."