CAPS beat facilitator sought, changes in panhandling laws, Smart911 system

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

CAPS officers met with residents of the New Eastside on Jan. 10 to talk about crime and improvements to the 911 system.

Sergeant Anthony Dombrowski said he is seeking a beat facilitator for the New Eastside CAPS meetings. The position is voluntary, and the beat facilitator would help at meetings and present police information to the public.

“We’d allow the person to do as much or as little as they like,” he said. For information, email the CAPS offices at

Sgt. Anthony Dombrowski

The sergeant said a law prohibiting aggressive panhandling is gone since late last year, but he didn’t anticipate any risk to residents.

“There is no longer any law prohibiting aggressive panhandling,” Dombrowski said, but touching people in unwanted ways and generally threatening behavior is still illegal.

Dombrowski said there has been litigation nationwide over the issue of panhandling, and essentially, it’s a free speech issue; homelessness generally is not considered a crime.

Police also introduced residents to Smart911, a smartphone service that tells first responders what to expect when they arrive at a resident’s home. According to a fact sheet provided at the meeting, Smart911 gives information about what medication callers use, whether there are pets in the building, and other details about the home. Anyone can sign up for free at

Residents directed questions about shoplifting to a manager of a recently opened CVS store at 310 S. Michigan Ave.. The manager said it is not store policy to physically stop people from shoplifting.

Dombrowski said that is common.

“Corporations don’t want to go hands-on on someone in their store,” he said. The sergeant explained this could escalate the situation and put employees at risk of injury when the crime isn’t that serious to begin with.

“We can arrest them. But the odds are they’re not going to go to prison,” he said.

In addition, Dombrowski said shoplifting is only a crime once someone leaves the store, and it’s not illegal to put things in a shirt or in a pocket before paying for them.

The next CAPS meeting will be Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at 130 North Garland Court.

[Chicago Police Sergeant Anthony Dombrowski. Photo by Jesse Wright]

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