Report from the 33rd Ward Community Meeting
A well-attended community meeting for the 33rd Ward was held on 01-18-12, hosted by Alderman Richard Mell with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, 17th District Commander Melissa Staples, Rep. Deb Mell and other representatives from the CPD, neighboring wards, community groups and government offices attending. Both Tim and I attended this meeting and submit the following report:
Rep. Deb Mell reported on her efforts to enact legislation allowing for evictions from properties of those found in gang activity, and the creation of a data base to register known gang members similar to the sex offender data base.
Garry McCarthy reported the following initiatives from the Chicago Police Department:
- CompStat: Holding police commanders accountable for police performance in their districts through weekly crime statistics review and application.
- An ongoing plan to return officers assigned to task forces and administrative functions to street duty with an ongoing plan to return officers to the street. This has resulted thus far in a return of over 500 officers back to street duty. Returning officers to functioning under the command of the police commander allows for better accountability from police commanders regarding policing activities in their districts.
- Assigning officers to regular community beats, allowing them to become familiar faces to the communities that they serve.
- Group accountability: Holding gang organizations responsible for the actions of individual gang members.
- Establishment of a coalition between elected officials, faith-based organizations, schools, community organizations, community service providers and businesses working together to reduce crime in neighborhoods.
- Enforcement of curfews to get youngsters off the streets.
A spirited question and answer session was then held with concerns expressed as follows:
- Need for resources such as job programs, after school activities and adult-to-youth mentoring to help with truancy, problem teenagers, and gang affiliation prevention. Several speakers from Albany Park demonstrated what a community can do to organize and protect youth through activity programs and mentoring.
- Perceived need for increased police presence on the street to prevent crime and violence. Reference was made by Garry McCarthy and other representatives to the initiatives outlined above. This reporter notes that police presence is not just the uniformed patrols and patrol cars on the street that can be seen but also the activity that is not seen that goes on through more covert activities such as unmarked patrols, cameras, etc.
- Better police coverage for gang “hotspots.” Commander Staples spoke directly concerning management of 1723, a known gang “hotspot,” and explained her accountability through the Compstat for identifying and managing “hotspots” identified with Compstat.
- Gun violence. Superintendent McCarthy spoke of ongoing battle on the congressional level regarding firearms legislation.
- Cooperation with federal agencies. Superintendent McCarthy responded that his agency was already cooperating with several federal agencies in a joint effort against organized and violent crime.
Other concerns were also voiced regarding ward issues such as beautification programs safety and community programs to clean up neighborhood areas and attract businesses. Alderman Mell encouraged residents to form block clubs to start neighborhood efforts to accomplish this and encouraged individuals to call/email his office for assistance with graffiti, garbage and other neighborhood issues.
Information was given regarding external security cameras being used by businesses and private residences that can now be hooked up and fed through OEMC to supplement camera coverage. Ward residents were encouraged to check OEMC on line for information on this.
We would like to thank all who came out to the meeting and who provided important feedback and questions. It was encouraging to hear how many folks have organized within the 33rd Ward to make it a better place for all of us.