New Eastside residents form neighborhood watch group

By Nicole VandeBoom and Taylor Hartz | Staff Writers

Published March 4, 2018

Concerns over safety and criminal activity in Chicago prompted a group of New Eastside residents to gather informally to discuss neighborhood crime on Feb. 27 at a local coffee shop.

The half-dozen attendees hailed from buildings all over the area. Residents shared personal anecdotes of crimes, uncomfortable situations, and nefarious things they had witnessed – from robberies to lax security in their own buildings to reporting other frightening things they had seen.“We have quite the variety of shenanigans ranging from nuisance to actual crime,” said resident Tom Besore.

Another attendee, Cate Hickey, outlined the 1st District police boundaries, noting the size of the area that extends south of the Chicago River to 31st street, and from Lake Michigan west to the Kennedy Expressway.

The group agreed that as residents, they had to take matters into their own hands and advocate for themselves. Some of the strategies discussed included advocating for improved lighting in darkened areas, adding security cameras, locking gates and spreading the word about community involvement in the fledgeling neighborhood watch group.

One participant suggested that residents call 911 for every disturbance or odd thing they notice in New Eastside in order to keep New Eastside on the police radar. Residents also discussed the idea of reporting crimes and safety concerns to the local alderman, building management, and condo board members.

At recent CAPS meetings for the local police beat, officers have encouraged residents to call 911 with every concern. Though it may seem like not every call gets answered, officers assured residents that every complaint gets addressed and cataloged.

“Taxpayers of the city of Chicago, stop calling 311,” said Nicole Bryson at a CAPS meeting in Novemeber. “You pay for 911, use your city services.”

She also discouraged residents from calling 311 with ongoing or immediate
complaints. Plans are in the works for a larger neighborhood watch meeting in the spring.

Organizers intend to start a community Facebook group dedicated to safety concerns of the New Eastside. “Things happen when somebody champions a cause,” Besore said. They all agreed to attend the next CAPS meeting on March 8 at 400 E. Randolph St., and raise the topic of the formation of the neighborhood watch group.

At the end of the meeting organizers handed out safety whistles to attendees.

For more information and to get on the email list for the group, contact Tom Besore
(312) 725-0223.

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