Several high-profile shootings in the last few month have garnered much attention in the news media and the local social media, as well they should. But what often escapes attention is the day-to-day activities of our 24th District Police Officers, who put their lives on the line every day to protect our neighborhood.
In that spirit, 24th District Police Commander Thomas Waldera (see photo on right) has shared with me some of the important accomplishments his officers have achieved in the last month and I am in turn sharing it with you.
Of course, on the top of the list was last week’s arrest of the alleged triggerman and another accomplice in the shooting death on Devon Avenue of innocent bystander, Wil Lewis. Thanks to crucial information provided by neighborhood residents and excellent police work, one suspect–the driver of the vehicle that carried the gunman–was arrested immediately after the shooting and the two other suspects were arrested less than three weeks later.
Commander Waldera shared with me an example of the smart police work that led to the arrest of Eric Vaughn, the driver of the vehicle. Vaughn returned to the scene of the crime in his car in an attempt to find his accomplices, but then abandoned his vehicle and began to walk away on foot. An alert neighbor notified one of the responding police officers, who stopped to question Vaughn. Vaughn, of course, vehemently denied he was the driver of the vehicle, claiming he was a victim of mistaken identity.
The witness began to have second thoughts about whether he had identified the right man and backed down from his identification. Without that positive identification, the police officer would no longer possess the requisite probable cause to arrest and detain the suspect. The officer then thought to press the alarm button on a car key Vaughn had in his possession. Vaughn pushed the alarm button, which triggered the alarm of a nearby car.
The officer went to the car and discovered two people crouched down in the front and back seats. The officer immediately placed Vaughn under arrest. Without the quick thinking of the police officer, Vaughn may have escaped arrest and the crime may have remained unsolved.
Other less notable, but nonetheless important arrests in the last 30 days include the following (as many of the arrests involve cases that are still under active investigation, the Commander has omitted the locations of the arrests):
Armed Robbery – Handgun Arrest
The victim of an armed robbery was able to give the reporting officer a good description of the offender and his direction of flight. Officers from both the 20th and 24th Police Districts responded and saturated the area. Thanks to the victim, helpful citizens, and assisting units, the offender was placed in custody and a gun was recovered.
Unlawful Use of a Handgun Arrest
Tactical Officers arrested a known gang member for unlawful possession of a weapon. The officers attempted to stop the offender to conduct a field interview. The offender fled on foot and officers observed he was holding a handgun. After a brief foot chase and a short struggle, the offender was caught and placed in custody. Officers canvassed the area and were able to locate the handgun. The subject has been arrested 23 times and currently wears an electric monitoring bracelet on his ankle.
Unlawful Use of a Handgun Arrest
Tactical officers attempted to stop a known gang member to ask him about a shooting which had just occurred minutes before. Upon seeing the officers, the offender fled on foot holding his waistband, a popular place for offenders to carry weapons. The officers gave chase and saw the offender throw the gun. The offender was placed in custody and the gun recovered. The offender is a member of a criminal street gang.
A man is in custody after a witness identified him as the person who snatched a chain from a victim five days before. The witness was able to relate the information to officers of the 24th district before the offender fled again.
Street gang//contact parole violation
A known gang member was arrested after he was seen in the company of other known gang members. Officers knowing this to be in violation of the man’s parole, placed him in custody and he is now incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
The Commander also provided me with the following statistics:
During the last 28 days the 024th District Officers initiated:
- 60% increase in street stops involving suspicious activity
- 54 Citations for Children out after Curfew
- 25 Arrests for individuals with Outstanding Criminal Warrants
QUALITY OF LIFE ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY
Distracted driver citations (driving while using a cell phone):
Last 28 days: 75; Year to date: 1,896
Park District enforcement citations (drinking in park, in park after closing)
Last 28 days: 24; Year to date: 323
Drinking on the public way citations
Last 28 days: 19; Year to date: 327
Bicycle on sidewalk citations
Last 28 days: 13; Year to date: 136
One of the successful methods we’ve employed over the years to make our neighborhood safer and rid it of gang influence is bringing slumlords to account for their failure to properly screen their tenants and manage their buildings. I have a staff assistant who devotes the majority of her time to housing issues and problem buildings and Commander Waldera assigns an officer the full-time task of monitoring bad buildings and gathering sufficient evidence to the City of Chicago Department of Law’s Drug and Gang House Unit as a target case.
Below are some recent updates (the Commander has omitted the addresses of the buildings as they are the subject of active criminal investigations):
Tactical officers executed a search warrant on an apartment that had been under surveillance and recovered crack cocaine and ammunition. Two self-admitted gang members were arrested and eleven contact cards were generated. Contact cards are cards upon which an officer will jot down the age, address, race, time and location, and reason for the stop. Contact cards can be helpful to police in keeping track of gang members and solving crimes.
The property was successfully submitted to the Drug and Gang Housing Division, which gives the City additional powers to hold landlords accountable.
In another case, tactical officers executed a search warrant on an apartment under surveillance and recovered cannabis and two handguns. Four self-admitted gang members were arrested. The property owner cooperated with the police and was able to expedite eviction proceedings and the occupants of the unit are due to be evicted by the end of this week.
Commander Waldera and I urge you to participate in one of the upcoming Rogers Park Positive Loitering events. Rogers Park Positive Loitering is a group of area residents, led by Rogers Park residents John Warner and John Versical, who gather together several evenings each month to stroll through the neighborhood or simply “loiter” on certain street corners. Their sole purpose is to deter crime by their positive presence on the street. Commander Waldera is convinced the group has had a very positive effect on deterring crime.
Over 600 neighborhood residents attended a march and vigil along Devon Avenue last month organized by Rogers Park Positive Loitering in a show of community solidarity following the tragic shooting on that street. The next Positive Loitering event is scheduled for Tuesday, August 12th, 7:00 p.m., at theintersection of Pratt and Ashland.
Back to School Picnics
Two major Back to School Picnics will be held this month. They are great community-building events and underscore to parents and their children the importance of going back to school on the first day of class.
The 24th Police District will be sponsoring a Back to School Picnic on Saturday, August 16th, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the 24th District Police Station, 6464 N. Clark (at Schreiber). Food and prizes will be given away.
State Senator Heather Steans and I will be sponsoring my 24th Annual 49th Ward Back to School Picnic on Sunday, August 24th, 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. in Loyola Park (Farwell and the Lake). We’ll be reminding kids and parents of the importance of returning to school and giving away free school supplies and book bags. But this is also a COMMUNITY PICNIC for people of all ages. We’re serving up free food, drinks and music and offering a host of games and prizes. We’ll have bingo for the seniors and face painting for the kids, a dance contest, a jumping jack and other carnival toys.
Upcoming CAPS Meetings
CAPS stands for the Chicago Alternative Police Strategy, which is the Chicago Police Department’s transition to a Community Policing model, which focuses on building partnerships with community residents and working with them proactively to address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues, such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.
Police Districts in Chicago are divided into beats, small geographical areas to which “beat officers” are assigned. Originally, community residents met in monthly “beat meetings” with police officers who were assigned to their beats. Together the residents and the police would exchange information, prioritize public safety issues, and develop strategies to address those issues.
A few years ago, due to budgetary constraints, the beat meetings were replaced with monthly “sector meetings” (three beats combined). These larger meetings made it difficult for the police and the community to really focus on localized issues of concern.
Because of this difficulty, Commander Waldera announced recently that the 24th District would be returning to the smaller monthly beat meetings. Budgetary constraints, however, will allow the police officers to attend the beat meetings only every other month. On the months the police officers are unable to attend, the community will still meet under the leadership and direction of “Beat Facilitators” (community volunteers who serve as the liaisons between the community and the police department) to discuss public safety issues among themselves and prioritize concerns.
Below is a map of the 24th District that delineates each police beat, followed by a list of the upcoming 49th Ward beat meetings in September:
Beat 2422 (bound by Evanston on the north, Jarvis on the south, the lake on the east and Clark on the west). Beat Facilitator: Toni Duncan.
Date and time of meeting: Tuesday, September 23rd, 7:00 p.m.
Location: Willye White Park Fieldhouse, 1610 W. Howard (at Marshfield)
Beat 2423 (bound by Jarvis on the north, Lunt on the south, the lake on the east and Clark on the west). Beat Facilitator: Tony Iniquez
Date and time of meeting: Monday, September 8th, 7:00 p.m.
Location: Touhy Park Fieldhouse, 7348 N. Paulina (at Jarvis)
Beat 2424 (bound by Howard on the north, Pratt on the south, Clark on the east and Ridge on the west). Beat Facilitator: Bernard Garbo.
Date and time of meeting: Tuesday, September 16th, 7:00 p.m.
Location: Pottawattomie Park Fieldhouse, 7340 N. Rogers (at Winchester)
Beat 2431 (bound by Lunt on the north, Pratt on the south, the lake on the east and Clark on the west). Beat Facilitator: John Warner
Date and time of meeting: To be announced.
Location: To be announced.
Beat 2432 (bound by Pratt on the north, Devon on the south, the Lake on the east and Ridge on the west). Beat Facilitator: Patrick Kenny
Date and time of meeting: Tuesday, September 9th, 7:00 p.m.
Location: 24th District Police Station, 6464 N. Clark (at Schreiber)
Commander Waldera has promised to provide regular updates in the future so that we can continue to monitor the 24th District’s progress in fighting crime and improving the quality of life for all who live here. I look forward to sharing those reports with you.