Positive loitering and other safety initiatives

Posted on Thu, 05/01/2014 - 11:40am

By Tracy Poyser

Positive LoiteringConcerns about safety are the rule rather than the exception in big cities like Chicago, even though living in a high-rise with a doorman and secured access gives us additional peace of mind. Yet, according to the Area Vibes website, Edgewater is rated safer than 83.1% of the neighborhoods in Chicago and the 18th-most livable neighborhood in the city. We enjoy lots of local amenities, a stable housing market, great public transportation and highly rated public schools. But, we’re certainly not immune from gang-related crime and other types of crime, and it serves all of us and our neighborhood well to know what we can do to assist our police force and community leaders to make Edgewater safer for all to enjoy.

Our 48th Ward office, led by Ald. Harry Osterman, is working diligently to make sure the neighborhoods within its borders are safe. It works closely with police commanders to increase patrols in pertinent areas, as well as working with officers from the gang crimes unit. At a recent safety meeting, Ald. Osterman encouraged neighbors to report suspicious activity and to call 911 to give detailed information to the police that will be critical in leading to an arrest of the offender(s). If you notice or have information regarding suspicious activity in our neighborhood, please contact Marko Zaric, the 48th Ward’s public safety liaison, at Marko@48thward.org or 773‑784‑5277, or send an email to Ald. Osterman at harry@48thward.org, or text the word “CPD” followed by your anonymous tip to CRIMES (274637).

One great way to help keep bad guys off the streets is to fill it with good guys. The more we walk the streets with our neighbors, the more it deters gang members and drug dealers from being there. So, if you’re able, please walk our neighborhood as much as you can! With warmer weather on the way, April 9 launched this year’s first “Positive Loitering” walk. A couple of Malibu East residents and I participated, together with some 30 neighbors and walk organizers, a couple of dogs and even a baby (in a stroller pushed by its mom, of course).

Everyone in our neighborhood can be a positive loiterer – no special qualifications needed! The group normally gathers in the early evening at the corner of Thorndale and Broadway, from now until mid-November, and ideally once a week unless it’s pouring rain. The time and day of the week may change so as not to be predictable, so if you’re interested in joining, check in with Marko Zaric and sign up for email alerts.

The idea for this innovative neighborhood safety initiative came from the Thorndale Action Task Force and Harry Osterman, with the intention of disrupting potential gang member gatherings in known “hot spots,” which are street corners or areas where previous gang activity had been reported. The group works with the support of police districts 24 and 20.

The walk is at a very easy pace, with participants spreading out a bit and paying particular attention to gang graffiti, open gates, derelict front yards where drug dealers may hide stuff, and other hot-button items that walk leaders have mentioned. “Our walks have had success pushing people in gangs off certain streets such as Thorndale. We will continue to move toward hot spots to make our presence known,” says task force organizer Rachel Sibio-Sanchez.

The nice thing is that the walks are truly “passive,” i.e., no walker confronts or engages people in the street. I learned a lot more than I had imagined about what gang graffiti means, and what to look out for and report. Do come join us – it’s a great way to spend a balmy early evening, make new friends, and stop in at one of our great local eateries afterward. You’ll find information about the walk in our alderman’s newsletter, as well as at the Every Block and Edgeville Buzz websites.

To find more information and safety tips, get regular updates, and to sign up for newsletters and alerts, check and save the following web links: