(Published May 30, 2019)
By Jesse Wright
The Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) held a safety forum in May that allowed nearly a hundred residents to get information from safety and security experts.
The forum included police commander Daniel O’Shea, computer security expert Andy Jaw and John Graeber, director of security at Navy Pier.
Residents mostly expressed concerns about crime. Two women in the audience told O’Shea they or their families had been recent victims of violent crime. Others expressed concern over perceived crime in the area, including flash mobs, wherein large groups of young people have spilled out of the red line and onto Streeterville streets to wreak havoc and, in some cases, assault pedestrians.
O’Shea said police are handling those incidents.
“For large groups of kids that come down, we have a plan in place,” he said.
O’Shea said officers monitor social media looking for plans for a mob gathering, and then police will swarm downtown. In addition, O’Shea said if cameras catch a large group of young people jumping turnstiles to get on public transportation, the trains will stop and the police will order the group off.
“We’ll have that train stopped at the next station and have them all taken off,” he said.
O’Shea added that public school students get public transportation passes and some use those on the weekends to go downtown. And, he said, police do not want to profile people by age.
“We don’t want to arrest a bunch of kids,” O’Shea said. “We want them to come down and enjoy downtown just like everybody else. But we’re not going to allow criminal activity.”
O’Shea urged residents to remain alert when they’re in public and to report crime and file a complaint, if they are the victims. O’Shea said some robbers use weapons specifically because many retail stores have policies that forbid engagement with strong-arm robbers, meaning that store personnel won’t physically stop a thief with a weapon.
“The store employees will approach them to stop them and then they’ll pull out mace and it’s become a strong-arm robbery,” said O’Shea.
The commander encouraged residents to get involved with the CAPS program to stay abreast on local police issues and join the court advocacy program through CAPS.