Saturday, April 28, 2018

Civic Leaders Cheer Cicero Ave. Arrests

Are busts routine or sign of change ahead?

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Less than 10 days after Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson made a public vow to rid Cicero Avenue of streetwalking sex workers and related crime, police on the ground appeared to be making good on the top cop’s promise.

Four recent arrests appear to be a step in that direction, although none of the women apprehended was accused of prostitution. Three of the four were charged with soliciting a ride on a public road, a legal tool police use against streetwalkers and others.

Each was arrested on or near Cicero Avenue, between 46th Street on the north and 51st Street on the south.

Charged with felony possession of a controlled substance
Crystal King
and possession of drug paraphernalia was 36-year-old Crystal G. King, of the 4900 block of West Huron. She was arrested in the 4600 block of South Lamon at 12:25 p.m. Sunday, April 22. Police would only say said she was spotted in a vehicle “participating in narcotics activity.”

According to public records, King has been arrested at least 19 times by CPD, going back to 2014. Four of those arrests were for soliciting rides on a public road—most recently in February of this year.

Two days before King’s most recent arrest—at 6:45 a.m.
Dawn Schackart
Friday, April 20--police apprehended Dawn Schackart, 35, of the 3200 block of South Wallace, in the 5000 block of South Cicero and charged her with soliciting a ride on a public road.

Just five minutes before Schackart was arrested, police apprehended 39-year-old Katie E. Howard in the 4800 block of South Cicero and charged her with the same crime. Howard, of the 4500 block of South Lawler, has been arrested three times this year by CPD: once for driving without a license and
Katie Howard
another time for operating an unregistered motor vehicle.

Finally, police arrested Megan M. Rudnick, 37, of the 4500 block of South Lawler, at 7:35 a.m., Thursday, April 19 in the 4900 block of South Cicero. She was charged with soliciting a ride on a public road.

Whether the arrests are a reaction to Johnson’s pledge—made April 11 to members of the Archer Heights Civic Association—or whether they reflect ongoing work directed
Megan Rudnick
by Chicago (8th) District Commander Ronald Pontecore remains to be seen.

Either way, reaction from leaders in Archer Heights and Vittum Park was swift.

“From both the Archer Heights Civic Association and the Gateway to Midway Committee, we are very glad to see action being taken regarding the streetwalkers on Cicero and have no doubt it is Commander Pontecore working in concert with Superintendent Johnson,” said AHCA President Thomas S. Baliga, also a principal organizer of the Gateway to Midway Committee. “We only hope this current initiative is not just a one-shot deal, but a response to the request from both the AHCA and GTMC to the Superintendent for an ongoing police tactical presence on Cicero to permanently rid the area, including the adjacent residential streets, of streetwalkers.”

Baliga added that in a conversation with an out-of-state developer of one of the Cicero Avenue revitalization projects, “they informed me they were warned about the prostitutes, but had not yet seen any during their visits to the site. Such discussion among developers can be catastrophic for Cicero Avenue revitalization.  The prostitute situation has to be rectified once and for all.”

Vittum Park Civic League Vice President Holly Petroschuk, who also is the longtime facilitator for CAPS Beat 814 meetings, applauded the recent arrests and said she sees them as a reflection of efforts made under Pontecore’s leadership.

“The commander continues to appear to be doing all he can with the resources he has available, and we applaud him for that,” she said. “Our concern remains about what the superintendent promised. We look forward to seeing his plan of action, learning about what additional law enforcement resources will be brought to this area, understanding what his timelines are and knowing what our role is as citizens living right here near Cicero.”

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