Illegal Party Task Force Pivots

CBS 2's Tara Molina reports the group charged with cracking down on illegal parties during the pandemic will now focus on illegal activies.

Video Transcript

- Dangerous illegal parties in hotels, businesses, and vacation rentals. CBS2 is always investigating, and today we're looking into the hundreds of citations issued by a special city task force created during the pandemic. Our Tara Molina has tracked the issues for months, and Tara, you learn that the task force will actually continue that work even now that the city is fully reopened.

TARA MOLINA: Exactly, Charlie. The focus right now is on preventing these dangerous illegal parties from leading to criminal offenses, something we have seen across this city this past year and a half. This viral video from Lan's in Old Town spurred a lot of conversation this past winter, ending with an apology from the restaurant for what it called "desperate actions with the city restrictions ravaging the restaurant industry." We found, through a public records request, this also led to two citations from the city's Large Gathering Task Force for violating the city's health orders. A month later, cited again. That time for smoking inside and, again, violating health orders. They're just a handful of the 2018 citations issued by that task force that started up last July, working with the Department of Buildings, the Chicago Fire Department, and the Chicago Police Department on more than 900 investigations.

ROSA ESCARENO: We saw a lot of illegal activity.

TARA MOLINA: Investigations, the Commissioner of the city's office of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, says will continue now that Chicago has fully reopened.

ROSA ESCARENO: The mayor's been very clear about making our city safe. It's not just the job of the police department.

TARA MOLINA: At crackdown's like the investigations we've tracked here, at the Eurostar's Magnificent Mile Hotel, allegations of illegal partying in hotel rooms led to more than social distancing concerns. In their case, the city found criminal violations, like smoking of cannabis on the premises, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, armed robbery, unlawfully possessed narcotics, criminal sexual assault, domestic battery, and more according to the city's Office of Business Affairs.

ROSA ESCARENO: We're shifting away from COVID, this task force is about addressing problem and illegal activity.

TARA MOLINA: Not just at licensed businesses in the city. We found a large number of the citations issued by the task force this past year, were for legal, paid to enter parties held in homes and vacation rentals, something we're told they'll continue to keep a close eye on. And the task force continues this work into a reopened Chicago today, and their work is in line with the city's community focus safety plan. We've heard about that from both CPD superintendent and Mayor Laurie Lightfoot's office heading into this summer. Reporting live in The Loop, I'm Tara Molina, CBS2 News.