Sunday, October 13, 2013

HOWARD STREET HISTORY...Early 'Community Policing'....and some thoughts on the policing of our neighborhood today.

In 1980, in the 24th Police District, there was a program started that was basically the precursor to today's CAPS program.  It was known as the Beat Representative Program.  It was different to today's 'community policing program', CAPS,  in several ways.  First, although the program was funded thru the Police Department,  it was run by civilians and neighborhood residents, top to bottom.  Beat Reps were volunteers who served as a link between the residents and the 24th District as well as promoting the fact  of "Police Watch" throughout the area.  At one time the Program provided stainless steel whistles to area residents, to be worn around the neck and blown when seeing illegal activity, primarily street drug dealing.  The program was largely developed,  administered and run by, Barbara Nuewski,  a neighborhood (NoH) resident.  
Another major difference was that the meetings between the neighbors and the Beat cops was hosted by and held in the homes/apartments of  the various Beat Representatives.  These were weekly meetings, rotated around the area of Beat 2422 attended by the on duty Beat officers (usually for 30 mins. of their shift time), the Duty Sgt. and on infrequent occasions, the District Commander.  At these meeting, run by the Beat Reps, neighbors shared concerns and asked questions of the officers about what was going on in the area.  Problems were discussed and solutions were sought, primarily thru resulting police responses.  In this process, neighborhood residents  got to know the Beat Officers on a one on one, personal basis and vice versa.  It was vary effective. 
In the late 1980s the Beat Representative Program was discontinued.  It was eventually replaced by the CAPS program, which is totally under the control of the Chicago PD and, IMO, more of a PR operation for the Chicago PD than anything. Why should I need to attend a CAPS meeting to inform the Police about, for example, open street drug dealing?  If I and others observe that kind of illegal activity, why can't the police who are 'on the job' also see it, at least the strong indication of it (gang/drug loitering, etc.)  
The most effective way for a citizen to contribute to fighting crime is to consistently report it, as well as any suspicious behavior or activity.  Of course, for this to result in crime reduction, there must be a  professional, consistent, proactive and accountable police response.  That means, in responding to say, a 911 call about street drug dealing, that responding officers get out of their police vehicle, ID everyone in the group, fill out a contact card on the individuals and disperse them.  More often than not, today's response to that call will result in a squad car slowly driving by with the officers never exiting their patrol vehicle.  That is not proactive, effective policing and it's a complete disservice to the residents of our neighborhood as well as completely 'short changing' the very people (us) who pay police salaries to keep our neighborhoods safe. 
I would also like to say that I think the 'positive loitering' activity is fine for those who see that as their way of contributing and participating in crime reduction in their local areas and neighborhoods.  It's a great way for people to feel connected  and express their feelings and support as a group and that's
important. Personally, I don't think it's much more effective in actually reducing crime than the 'preacher/church anti-crime rallies' that are so frequently held in response to crime. 
The picture below depicts what is the most effective way for neighborhood residents to contribute to a successful anti-crime effort. Be alert, observe and report! Residents must be willing to actively and consistently monitor the activity in their neighborhood and call 911 when it is warranted. Also, whenever you can, it's good to take pictures documenting the situation whether it's criminal activity or police misconduct and/or lack of response.  Observe the police response, if it's not adequate or proper, follow up and demand better by registering an official complaint with the CAPS facilitator, the District Commander, the CPD Superintendent, the Alderman and the Mayor!  On the flip side, "Thanks and kudos for a job well done" are just as important to express for consistent, effective, proactive police work.  Community anti-crime efforts can only succeed if 'we' all work together toward common goals: safety and security on our streets and in our homes, resulting in a good quality of life for all.

Tools for effective civilian community policing:
I.D. from my Beat Representative days:

Death threats against me from the local
gangbanger/drug dealers of the day.


Local newspaper reports of the times:

Lerner 4/29/86

Drug Dealers Told ..'We'll be watching'       By BARBARA YOUNG Staff Writer
Blantant drug deals made on the streets in the North of Howard community, often involving child­ren and teen-agers, long have been a source of frustration for residents and police officials.

Although a crackdown last year by the Rogers Park (24th) District police resulted in some arrests, the problem is as bad as ever, some say. Commander Nestor Chakonas of the 24th District, though, said the situation has improved.

But not enough for members of the Good News Community Church, 7649 N. Paulina St.. who recently organized a "drug watch" task force to provide citizen input. Their anti-drug campaign so far includes a poster contest involving two ele­mentary schools in the community, Gale Community Academy and the Good News Educational Workshop. "Report Crime Because We Care" is the theme of the contest and the winning poster will be selected at the 24th District police station at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The winning poster will be distributed to area merchants, tenants and homeown­ers as a way of publicizing the problem. "

The biggest undertaking will be a community awareness day begin­ning at noon Sunday, when task force members act as deterrents by standing watch at the corner of Paulina Street and Jonquil Ter­race.

Chakonas applauded community plans to help in the drug fight and said the cooperation of a resident in the area, who allowed police to set up a surveillance in her apartment, was especially helpful in last week's arrests.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, pastor of the English speaking congregation at Good News Church, which has a separate Spanish-speaking congre­gation, said the task force organ­ized about six weeks ago because church members, most of whom live in the community, were "sick and tired of
how flagrant the drug traffic has become."

Fannie Johnson, a 10-year North-of Howard area resident and co-chairman of the task force, said, "Our concern is to emphasize com­munity strength, not the weakness. As neighborhood residents, we need to take responsibility for address­ing problems like this when they arise." ••

Tschannen-Moran called the Pau­lina and Jonquil corner a "drug store," and said the community has become known as a safe place to buy drugs.

"It's just like a hamburger stand," he said. "People from out­side the community know the rou­tine and that the dealers deliver." All the buyers have to do is catch somebody's eyes on the street, nod their heads and the sale is on, according to Tschannen-Moran.

The task force's main goal is to discourage outsiders from coming to the community to buy drugs, he said, and picket signs, videotapes and community wide participation should gel the message across.

The church members decided it was time the community did more than leave the matter up to police, according to Tschannen-Moran. "We're scratching our heads wop-dering why police have not been more effective," he said.

Undercover police are constantly assigned to the community, but drug pushers soon become familiar with them and thus are able to avoid being arrested. Tschannen-Moran said.

The task force discussed the com­munity's drug problem with Aid. David Orr (49th) and Chakonas, who promised police cooperation for the Sunday program, Tschan­nen-Moran said.

People interested in joining the task force should call 262-2277.


Tavern shooting 
Lerner Newspaper

November 1981
Street bar owner charged with murder
Staff Writer

THE OWNER of a Paulina Street tavern open while appealing a 1980 dry vote in the precinct has been charged with murder in connection with a shooting there early Sunday morning, Nov. 7. The shooting oc­curred four days after Appellate Court judges issued a ruling uphold­ing the election results.

Aid. David Orr (49th), who has been involved, along with North of Howard residents, in the campaign to close the Paulina Street taverns, expressed delight with the court's decision, but said, "If justice had been swifter, the incident at the bar could have been avoided. It's unfortunate the decision took this long."

Charged in the shooting is Hugo Lopez, 31, of 7610 N. Marshfield Ave., owner of Mi Lugar Tavern, 7642 N. Paulina St. Lopez is accused of shooting Arturo Mercado, 39, of 2040 W. Touhy Ave., with a rifle after he had been attacked by Mercado's Doberman pinscher, pol­ice said.
THE VICTIM, accompanied by the dog, walked into the tavern about 3 a.m. and began arguing with the owner, reports said, Lopez, after being attacked by the dog, took a rifle from his office, shot the victim in the chest, then told sever­al bystanders to drag the body into the street, police said.

A 24-year-old North of Howard man was injured during the inci­dent. He was listed in fair condition at St. Francis Hospital with gunshot wounds to the chest and stomach three days after the shooting. Pol­ice have not made any charges in connection with the second shoot­ing.

Rogers Park (24th) District pol­ice on routine patrol were alerted to the shooting when they heard gun­shots in the vicinity of the tavern. They found Mercado lying face up on the street in front of the tavern, but had to distract the Doberman before they, were able to examine the body, reports said.

When Lopez and other witnesses were questioned, they claimed the shooting happened on the sidewalk, not inside the tavern, and that a group of 10-15 men had been in­volved in the fight, police said. Lo­pez was arrested later that day when another witness told investi­gators a different version of the shooting, police said.

THE DRV VOTE in the 1st Pre­cinct of the 49th Ward passed 132-33 in the November, 1980 election. Community leaders had blamed the taverns for such problems on Pauli­na Street as violence, loitering and excessive litter—and still do.

Three taverns, the Mi Lugar, the Gray Moon at 7605 Paulina and La Sota De Copas, 7644 Paulina, still remain open and will be affected by the Appellate Court ruling, which was made on Nov. 3.

Orr explained that the taverns have 21 days—until Nov. 24—to ap­ply for a re-hearing, and have a legal right to remain open until then. He said he expected such a petition, if it is made, to be denied. The taverns can also remain open by appealing the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Police have said, however, that the Mi Lugar will be subject to a license investigation because of Sunday's shooting.

Area residents are still frustrated by the slow progress of the case, calling the appeals "stall tactics" on the part of the taverns. "In the meantime, we've got blood on the street," noted Mike Luckenbach, one of those who campaigned for the dry vote two years ago.


mcl said...

For anyone who is interested, I have numerous files going back over the years dealing with all manner of NoH police issues that I would be happy to share.

Mike Luckenbach
NoH resident since 1975

Philip McGregor Rogers said...

WOW, thanks for this eye opening post. Not too many people (thankfully) have had their name scribbled out by criminals.

mcl said...

At the time there were also bullets fired through my North Point office windows and door.

Philip McGregor Rogers said...

You still dont have the authority or political correctness of Helen. Who has been there (NOH) even longer than you.


Really just too much concentrated low income housing NOH. Until that changes there will be the same issues. That inertia is very hard to overcome. But it isn't impossible. And it will change, just dont know when.

concentrated poverty serves no good purpose for anyone or the city.