I am pleased to report we scored a significant victory last week in our efforts to secure a troubled apartment complex just east of the Morse el Station when the buildings’ owners and managers agreed to hire private security guards during times of peak criminal activity. The security patrol will begin on Thursday, November 30th.
The complex consists of two apartment buildings, one fronting on 1340 W. Morse and the other fronting on 1345 W. Lunt, and is a site of suspected drug and gang activity. Several drug purchases were made at 1340 W. Morse during an undercover police operation earlier this year, which allowed police officials to refer the troubled apartment complex into the Strategic Task Force program.
The undercover investigation was initiated after community residents and I held a series of meetings with building management and police under the CAPS program to try to resolve problems at the apartment complex. While management agreed to install security cameras and additional lighting and evict some troublesome tenants, the suspected criminal activity at the building persisted.
The strategic task force targets buildings that have been identified as “drug/gang houses or places of ongoing criminal activity.” The task force consists of city lawyers, building inspectors and the police who team up to conduct top to bottom inspections of problem buildings and meet with the owners of the buildings to develop a plan for resolving the problems.
The task force can require building owners to evict problem tenants, engage in criminal background checks of prospective tenants and tenants renewing leases, and provide building security enhancements. In extreme cases, the task force can compel landlords to sell their property.
I participated in a series of meetings with the Strategic Task Force, the management company and a representative of the consortium that owns the buildings to develop a plan to resolve the criminal activity. I insisted the abatement plan include several items suggested by community residents, including hiring security guards to patrol the building and its perimeter during peak periods of criminal activity.
Accordingly, the owners and managers have entered into a legally binding agreement to hire a security firm, which includes off-duty police officers, to be on the property Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. The guards will insure that only tenants and their guests will gain access to the building and that illegal activity does not occur on or near the property. Although the agreement is not effective until December 8th, the security firm will begin work this Thursday, November 30th.
Under the agreement, the owners and managers must also do the following:
• Those arrested during the undercover operation must be prohibited from returning to the building.
• Eviction proceedings against all individuals residing in units where criminal activity has occurred must be initiated.
• Criminal background checks must be performed on all current and future tenants.
• All tenants must receive written leases, which include provisions stating that tenants and their guests shall not engage in criminal activity and that such involvement in criminal activity will be grounds for immediate eviction.
• Additional lighting both inside and outside the building must be installed.
• All entrance doors and gates must be locked using non-duplicable keys so that only residents gain entrance to the building. All doors from the parking into the buildings must be checked three times a day to ensure that they are secure and that the foyers are clean.
• Entrances to the parking lot, including car gates and walking gates, must be closed and locked at all times.
• All graffiti must be removed immediately.
• Security cameras, which have already been installed on the buildings, must be maintained, and recordings must be made 24 hours a day. Videotapes must be retained for 14 days and made available to the Chicago Police Department upon request.
The city would not have this additional enforcement authority if it were not for the undercover investigation, which led to the arrests at the buildings last August. I would like to thank the men and women of the Chicago Police Department for their hard work. I would also like to thank the many community residents, whose persistence and vital information lead to those arrests.
While our work is not finished, the strides we have made are a testament to the crime fighting partnership we have developed in the 49th Ward since community policing was initiated over 13 years ago. I urge everyone to maintain a vigilant watch over the buildings and report any suspected criminal activity to the police and my office.