Residents encouraged to work w/CPD at March CAPS Meeting

Nearly 40 residents attended the March 5 Community Beat Meeting for Chicago Police Beats 1831 through 1834  — which includes the Magnificent Mile, River North, and Streeterville.

Hosted by the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) on the second floor of Access Living (115 W. Chicago Ave.), the semi-monthly gathering addresses resident concerns through “a partnership between police and community,” according to the Chicago Police website.

CPD Sergeant Christopher Schenk and Officer Alfred Robinson were on hand to represent the Chicago Police Department.  

Beat meeting facilitator Craig Kaiser opened the proceedings with an explanation of the “ground rules” — one person speaks at a time, ask questions with respect, etc.  Then he presented the statistics of crime reported between January and March 2020 with the same time frame from last year.

Although theft, deceptive practice, and robbery have declined, incidents of battery and criminal damage to property have increased.

Responding to an attendee’s enquiry, Officer Robinson offered a general description of the differences between theft and robbery: theft occurs when an item is stolen from a retail establishment; robbery occurs when something is stolen from a person.

Officer Robinson also noted that the CPD received more than 17,000 calls for service over the past three months and encouraged attendees to report crime when they see or suspect it.

“The more calls we get, the better off we are,” he said. “Don’t think that your call isn’t necessary.”

He followed with a presentation of the CPD’s Court Advocacy program.

The Court Advocacy program allows residents to show solidarity and support by monitoring individual suspects and attending their trials. To date, it has registered more than 80 residents while following more than 50 cases.

Suspects currently being monitored include Eric Creech, who is charged with armed robbery; and Jaquan Washington, charged with two acts of murder, three acts of attempted murder, and three acts of aggravated discharge.

Residents interested in becoming Courtroom Advocates must complete an application and attend a 30-40-minute training seminar, Officer Robinson continued. Upon approval, they receive a badge and the privilege of expedited courtroom access.

Next on the agenda, Kaiser updated the concerns expressed during the previous meeting. Complaints of “repeat offenders” congregating near McDonald’s at Chicago Ave. and State St. persist; but the “significant” number of cell phone robberies reported near Chestnut and DeWitt, including one that involved battery, “seems to have disappeared.”

When he introduced the Open Forum, attendees described three main concerns.

Mail theft is on the rise. According to one attendee, alleged perpetrators have obtained a copy of the Post Officer’s “master key” and have stolen from at least fifty buildings.

Young people in a sport utility vehicle (SUV) have been following residents around the neighborhood, noted another attendee. The comment elicited quick response from Sergeant Schenk, who advised people to “call 911 and articulate” the situation while walking towards an area of 24-hour safety if they think they are being followed.

 “Know where your local hospital, fire house, and police stations are located,” he added. “Northwestern University works with the CPD, and Loyola security are certified police officers.”

Offenders are not detained after being arrested, according to another attendee, adding that the situation has forced some people to stay home at night. Officer Robinson explained that judges, not police, determine what happens to an alleged perpetrator after they are arrested.

“I’ve arrested people with, like, 64 (previous) arrests,” he continued, “and I’m like, how are you out?”

He advised residents to subscribe to the Community Alerts issued by the CPD and added that, “if you hear or see something during a crime, describe it to the police.” Finally, an attendee asked for advice on what to do when a scene erupts on the CTA Red Line. Sergeant Schenk advised that riders to locate the “panic button” affixed to the walls of every CTA car. When activated, the button connects to the conductor and to the Office of Emergency Management & Communications (OEMC), which handles the city’s 911 calls.

By Daniel Patton, March 10, 2020

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