Police plan more officers for Pride, warn of crack down on parties and public drinking

Wed. June 25, 2014 4:19 PM by Andy Ambrosius

chicago pride parade, 2013

photo credit // anthony meade

Tickets for public drinking could reach $1,000 and firefighters will be on hand to shut down unsafe rooftop and balcony parties.

Chicago, IL - Chicago Police warn security at this year's annual Pride Parade will be enforced more than ever, stating there will be extra officers on the route, potential $1,000 fines for public drinking and a crackdown on rooftop and balcony parties.

The Chicago Pride Parade, slated to start Sunday at noon, draws more than 1 million people to North Side. Running a nearly 4 mile stretch from Broadway and Montrose Avenue in Uptown to Diversey and Sheridan Avenues in Lakeview, the parade has received its share of criticism over the years, with public drinking topping the list for many.

In 2013, the city passed a new ordinance that allowed police to fine those publically drinking within 200 feet of a parade route between $500 to $1,000 in response to problems during the South Side Irish Parade in 2009. However, many people wondered how much the ordinance is actually enforced.

But according to 19th District Commander Ellias Voulgaris, this year parade-goers can expect to see more police, especially after the parade. He told ChicagoPride.com there will also be a stricter emphasis on the ordinance, which now is enforced within 800 feet of the parade route.

"We're going to have a lot more officers this year, so we're going to have more resources to attack the problems. And, of course, public safety is our number one concern," Voulgaris said. "We have plans implemented where we won't have to take officers off the streets to issue citations."

"On Sunday, there will be officers at the parade, and extra officers at nighttime," Voulgaris continued. "Problems are minimal during the parade. It's afterwards that we need the extra help."

He added that police will also be cracking down on unsafe rooftop and balcony parties, saying fire and building departments will be checking for those clearly over capacity.

"If a roof has a party area or similar designated area, that is fine," Voulgaris told DNAinfo. "We don't want individuals gathering on a roof that is not designated to have parties or occupants."

In 2013, police representatives told this reporter that the new drinking ordinance would be enforced, but when a crowd reaches upwards of 1 million people, there's only so much officers can do. He added that public safety and quality of life issues were the No. 1 concern. This year, however, Ald. Tom Tunney's (44th) office told ChicagoPride.com there will be no exceptions.

"The Chicago Police Department has said there will be zero tolerance for drinking on the public way both during and after the parade this year," Tunney's director of communications Erin Duffy said in a statement. "For any individual drinking caught drinking on the public way within 800 feet of the parade, the citation increases to a fine up to $1,000."

Voulgaris agreed, saying combined with the Chicago Cubs playing the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field twice on Saturday, the entire weekend will be a priority for police this weekend.

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