Monday, April 9, 2012

Archer Heights CAPS Meeting Roundup

A recent Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting in Archer Heights yielded common concerns and calls for renewed citizen vigilance and cooperation with police in thwarting crime.

The April CAPS meeting for the Eighth Police District’s Beats 815 and 821(see clickable beat map below) was held at St. Bruno School and was attended by about two dozen local men and women.

Highlights included:

** Chicago Police officers in attendance stated that the ongoing crackdown on prostitution continues in the wake of Operation Little Girl Lost, which in 2011 resulted in the arrest of nine street gang members charged with forcing young girls into prostitution. Locally, efforts have centered around Cicero Avenue in the blocks south of the Stevenson Expressway, as well as 47th Street between Pulaski and Cicero. Several people at the meeting praised police efforts and encouraged them to keep at it, especially since some of the prostitutes seen locally appear to be in their early teens, they said.

** Several small businesses continue to tape advertising flyers to residential garage doors in the area. All who see the flyers are advised to report it to police.

** A reputed gang member was arrested and charged in connection with a residential burglary near 53rd and Mayfield. Local court advocates intend to appear in court on April 26 to impress upon everyone the neighborhood’s solidarity in demanding justice.

** CAPS facilitator Michael Kovac praised the efforts of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch (GRNW) and urged everyone in Archer Heights to “follow their lead. The people in Garfield Ridge are watching. They see a vehicle on their block that they don’t recognize, and they watch closely. We have to be that way. We have to be aware, and we have to call 911 when we see anything suspicious.”

** One person voiced concern about possible gang activity near the Archer Park basketball courts, as well as possible drug dealing in an alley near 49th and Kostner.  All local residents are advised to keep their eyes and ears open and report any problems promptly.

** It was noted that the annual springtime spike in confidence artist activity, as well as strong-arm robberies, is occurring. All local residents are advised to be extremely cautious in answering their doors. Always ask a stranger at the door for photo identification---and they tell them to wait while you telephone the police. “If they’re legit, they’ll wait,” one man at the meeting said.

** There was brief discussion of an alleged “nuisance” house near 49th and Knox---where there may be squalor inside that includes multiple cats and dogs. Several individuals at the meeting said they are working with city agencies to address the problem.

** All local residents were encouraged to post the four-digit number of their home address at the rear of their property---either on the garage or securely affixed to their fence, clearly visible from the alley---so that police may quickly and accurately navigate the block in an emergency.

** One resident complained about neighbors who hold frequent, loud parties that last well into the night. Police noted that the law requires loud noises to cease at 10:00 p.m., and that police can and do respond to such calls---and when appropriate, issue citations that can carry a $500 fine.

** After one person asked if there is a gang attempting to establish a new toehold in Archer Heights, it was noted that flashing gang signs is a crime in the city (reckless conduct), and that police can and do respond to citizen calls about it.

The next CAPS meeting for Beats 815 and 821 is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 2 at St. Bruno, 4839 South Harding. All local residents are encouraged to attend. For more details, phone the Eighth District CAPS Office at 312-747-8724.

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