Public meetings stress safety, vigilance during expected summer crime wave
Loop North News


(Above) A Chicago Police Department helicopter flies over the lakefront on May 26.

CTA Red Line a ‘constant source of angst,’ says police commander.

2-Jun-18 – Rising crime and release of repeat offenders were subjects of public safety meetings hosted recently by two North Side aldermen.

At a meeting in Lincoln Park, 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith said change is needed in Springfield to balance rights of victims with rights of juveniles.

She noted there were 600 carjackings in 2016, 1,000 carjackings in 2017, and of the 2017 carjackings, 42 percent were committed by juveniles.

Michele Smith “Until July 1, 2017, carjackings with a gun were automatically treated as an adult offense,” said Smith (left). “Now, they are handled as juvenile crimes with shorter detentions and, in some cases, erasure of the offense from the offender’s record. Currently the policy allows juveniles who commit a violent offense to be immediately released, which is totally unacceptable.”

She is demanding that Cook County prosecute “gateway” crimes.

“Often, adults and juveniles commit the crime of Possession of Stolen Vehicles before they are emboldened to hijack a vehicle. These early crimes are not properly prosecuted due to a unique glitch in Illinois law.”

Senate Bill 2339, approved and now before the Illinois House, would attempt to correct that, allowing possession of a stolen motor vehicle to be prosecuted like other stolen property crimes. It would also allow some juveniles who are arrested for committing an armed carjacking to be detained before their trial. Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson has said the current policy, sometimes called catch and release, isn’t working.

In Edgewater, “if you see something, say something,” was the focus of a Town hall meeting chaired by 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman.

The meeting allowed residents to discuss public safety issues with 20th District Police Commander Sean Loughran and 24th District Police Commander Roberto Nieves.

“Public safety is our number one priority,” said Osterman (right). “Together with the police, we have made strides to reduce violence in our neighborhood. This has been a collective community effort, involving residents, police, business owners, property owners, and schools. Communication and collaboration among stakeholders has been critical in improving safety in our community.” Harry Osterman

Commanders Loughran and Nieves agreed that approximately 20 to 30 percent of neighborhood crime can be reduced by simply looking out for neighbors. They urged residents to get to know their neighbors and their cars and not hesitate to call police if they notice any suspicious activity.

Roberto Nieves Nieves acknowledged concerns raised by some residents about crime at or near CTA stations.

“The Red Line is a constant source of angst and we’re working closely with the CTA police in this area,” said Nieves (left), whose district serves Rogers Park.

Both districts get frequent calls about property crimes. According to Loughran, mobile phones, catalytic converters, and packages left on porches are the most sought-after items for thieves. Some recent car thefts, he said, resulted from the carelessness of owners who left their car keys in the vehicle.

By Bob Kitsos | Loop North News |

Published 2-Jun-18 12:10 AM

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