CHICAGO — With an eye toward the Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech massacres, Chicago's multi-pronged disaster plan has added a new chapter on school violence that will ultimately require retraining the city's 7,000 patrol officers.
"We can't do what happened [at Columbine High School] in Colorado: contain and wait. They established a perimeter until they got enough resources to come in," said Pat Daly, chief of counterterrorism and intelligence for the Chicago Police Department.
"Now the feeling is we don't have the luxury of waiting to establish a perimeter. We have to go into the building and resolve the problem in immediate fashion. That's what we're training our officers to do. It's not a hostage situation. It's a violence situation. We can't negotiate with someone who is in the act of shooting people."
School-violence drills at the police academy have "just started," Daly said. Ultimately, every patrol officer will have to be retrained on the new plan.
Daly is the veteran FBI agent turned CTA security chief chosen by Police Supt. Jody Weis to make certain Chicago is as prepared as it can possibly be to handle a terrorist attack, natural disaster or major emergency.
When Mayor Daley agreed to pay Weis $310,000 a year, the explanation was that Weis would wear two hats: police superintendent and chief emergency officer. If that's true, Daly is the guy who's wearing the jacket that goes with Weis' second hat.
The best man at Weis' wedding, Daly was initially chosen to serve as his chief of staff.
But chief of counterterrorism and intelligence is probably a better fit at a time when emergency preparedness is central to Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
A 21-year veteran FBI agent, Daly hunted the Unabomber, investigated the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and picked through the rubble of the federal building in Oklahoma City as an explosives expert before testifying against conspirator Terry Nichols.
Now, Daly is buttoning down — or "hardening" — terrorist targets such as CTA subway tunnels and water filtration plants that are now the subject of "video, water and air surveillance."
"It's very well-watched and watched on a regular basis," he said of the water system.
Daly is also combing through the city's disaster plans and fine-tuning an evacuation plan for the central business district that calls for at least three transport centers in close proximity, where evacuees would be bused outside the city.
The evacuation plan for the business district has three degrees of seriousness. A Level One incident would trigger a partial evacuation of the Loop and may involve the closing of local streets and mass-transit routes. Level Two involves even more street closings and CTA impact. Level
Three would cut off all access to and from the downtown area by road and rail. Expressways would be closed to all but emergency vehicles.
"We don't have glaring holes we need to fill. What we do have is a lot of training and exercise issues and also fine-tuning plans to be more specific to deal with specific incidents," Daly said.