Chicago’s Big Security Shoulders

By Teresa Anderson

September 2013

As the third most populous city in the United States, the city of Chicago is home to 2.7 million residents and hosts more than 45 million visitors annually. All of these people look to law enforcement and private security for protection. As ASIS members travel to the Windy City for the ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, Security Management takes a look at three examples of how public-private partnerships are keeping the people of Chicago and their businesses safe.

Chicago O’Hare Airport

More than 77 million passengers pass through Chicago O’Hare Airport each year. The airport covers more than 7,000 acres across two counties and directly employs around 50,000 people. The world’s 5th busiest airport, O’Hare has four terminals, 189 gates, and six runways that facilitate one million flights each year. The scope of these numbers is not lost on Richard Edgeworth, chief safety and security officer for the Chicago Department of Aviation and a former member of the Chicago Fire Department who served as assistant deputy fire commissioner before coming to O’Hare.

Edgeworth’s department is responsible for protecting the airport and the people who use it. This means maintaining robust public-private partnerships not only with other airport stakeholders such as the airlines but also with numerous external parties, including police, fire, and federal officials. And that’s especially critical when it comes to emergency response.

Mike Dacey, who works for the emergency management section of the Chicago Department of Aviation, is another key player who helps bring together these various stakeholders for numerous disaster scenarios that he devises each year. These scenarios cover a wide range of possible threats, including hostage situations, active-shooter incidents, and health events,such as a bird flu outbreak. 

Each major scenario is broken up into two sections, which Dacey refers to as discussion-based and operations-based. The discussion-based portion occurs first, with the operations-based exercise following shortly after. Keeping the two parts of the exercise separate allows the group to take time to talk through the issue thoroughly and uncover planning problems. The second exercise then serves to highlight operational challenges.



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