Local authorities keep plans for pre-inauguration security close to the vest

  • Crews place plywood over windows at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield Friday amid FBI warnings of potential armed protests across the 50 states leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

    Crews place plywood over windows at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield Friday amid FBI warnings of potential armed protests across the 50 states leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Capitol News Illinois photos by Peter Hancock

 
 
Updated 1/15/2021 1:15 PM

While local authorities are taking seriously FBI warnings about armed protests that may occur nationwide in advance of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, most decline to share their preparations and procedures.

The Cook County sheriff's office is "working in close cooperation with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to provide additional assistance and security if necessary in the days leading up to the presidential inauguration," said spokesman Matthew Wallberg. Biden's inauguration is Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

 

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans shared a statement from Sheriff Tom Dart's office which reiterated the FBI's admonitions that most planned protests -- by right-wing extremists, anti-government, pro-gun, conspiracy groups and others -- are targeting state capitals.

Dart, in the statement, said officers from the department's Critical Incident Command Center are monitoring cameras live and are communicating with the FBI, Chicago police and the Illinois State Police, among other agencies. To date, the sheriff's police have received no specific threats to any Cook County buildings, he said.

Chicago police on Wednesday held a training exercise described as a "preparedness drill," ABC 7 reports. It came amid rising concerns nationwide and not in response to a specific threat, according to ABC 7.

A spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff's Department said no credible information suggests unrest will occur in Lake County but that authorities remain prepared.

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"We are working with our state and federal partners, closely monitoring any chatter of the possibility of disruption or disturbance," the spokesman said.

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said he knows of no planned protests and no credible threats. However he is adding more patrols to county campuses and is assigning additional staff in and around the Kane County Government Center in Geneva. He also set up an emergency communications platform to send out messages, if necessary, to all county employees.

Kane and Kendall County sheriff's departments, together with the Aurora, Elgin and Naperville police departments, have established the Fox Valley Metro Area Command to handle emergency situations.

"We are working with the sheriff and our law enforcement partners at the local, state and federal levels, monitoring information as there is heightened security awareness across the nation," said Murray Snow, director of the DuPage Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has activated 250 members of the Illinois National Guard to help with security at the Illinois Capitol in Springfield, where crews on Friday were boarding up windows.

"Following the violent siege at our nation's Capitol and reports from federal law enforcement on threats to state capitols, I am bringing all resources to bear to protect our residents and our democratic process," Pritzker said in a statement.

Daily Herald writers Doug Graham and Susan Sarkauskas and wire services contributed to this report.

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