By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer
On Thursday, CAPS police officials told Streeterville residents they were cracking down on drug dealers and buyers in the area.
Officer Thomas Baker said officers are trying to make cases against drug distribution networks as opposed to people merely carrying illicit substances. However, he said, police need assistance from residents.
“Our biggest thing is, we obviously need help from the community, especially when you guys see everything,” Baker said.
The police action comes amid community concerns that drug activity is getting worse. One resident said open sales along Chicago Avenue are becoming problematic. Baker suggested forming block clubs and said police could help.
“We can train you, if need be, if you have a community room available,” he said. Baker explained block clubs could create email and phone trees to channel information to police regarding problematic areas. The result, Baker said, would be safer communities.
“We will train you to harden the target, to make it more secure for yourself and others to walk through and be safe day and night,” he said. Hardening a target means making an area safer.
A private security officer in the audience said drug dealers are selling to students, starting fights and criminally trespassing on the property of the Chicago Avenue McDonald’s where he works. He said despite arrests, drug sellers return after light sentencing with little consequence.
Baker said police would soon hold meetings with the city attorney to find ways to more effectively stop drug sellers from loitering near a methadone clinic in the area.
Sergeant Christopher Schenk said residents safely taking pictures of drug deals and illicit activity could help arresting officers.
“I don’t want you to put yourself in harm’s way,” Shenk said. “I have to say that. But if they have photos or anything they can take, or information that could help us out, that would be great.”
He said there have been photos that have helped investigations.
An audience member asked if students buying the drugs were being arrested. Without buyers, she pointed out, drug dealers would not be on the street.
Schenk said officers would arrest anyone who violated the law.
“Whoever breaks the law, and if there is a victim who can sign complaints or if there is an ordinance we can sign, we are more than happy to (make an arrest). Justice is blind,” Schenk said. “I don’t care if you are Caucasian, African American, Asian — justice is blind.”
The officers added that anyone who has crime tips or would like more information can contact law enforcement for non-emergency situations at 312-742-5778 or CAPS.email@example.com.
The next CAPS meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Oct. 4 at 115 W. Chicago Ave.