by BRIAN NADIG
The number of arrests made this year through mid-July in the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District is up 25 percent from the same period last year, while the number of citations written for minor violations is up by almost 50 percent.
"Arrests are up and our crime is down," 16th District commander James O’Donnell said at the July 16 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee. "We are down for the year in every single category."
Through July 14, there have been 1,903 arrests made in the district compared to 1,520 for the same period last year, while the number of index, or serious, crimes reported through July 7 has declined from 1,190 last year to 1,088 this year. Reported robberies have dropped from 92 to 70, and felony thefts have declined from 326 to 262.
The number of citations issued for minor offenses such as unlicensed junk dealers, public urination and marijuana possession is 2,013, up 48 percent from last year. Another common citation is for being in a public park after closing time, which is 9:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. at most parks in the city, O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell said that the district is encouraging officers to consider issuing a citation for minor offenses instead of making an arrest because it saves time. "It allows our officers to spend more time of the streets, patrolling our neighborhoods," he said.
An administrative notice of ordinance violation ticket is issued only to violators who are cooperative, willing to sign the citation and have no outstanding arrest warrant, O’Donnell said. Those who are issued a citation can contest the fine at an administrative hearing.
Also at the meeting, O’Donnell urged people who purchase cars through an online transaction that "sounds too good to be true" to check with police and provide the vehicle identification number to see if the car has been reported stolen. The district recently broke up a theft ring that was selling cars on Craigslist, stealing cars back from the purchasers, and re-listing the vehicles for sale on Craigslist.
It also was reported at the meeting that two vacuum-sealed bags containing 900 grams of marijuana were found in a car during a traffic stop on June 24 in the 6700 block of North Oliphant Avenue. During a search of the man’s home, 136 grams of marijuana and three guns were found, police said. The suspect was identified police as Michael R. Neri, age 35, of the 3800 block of North Pontiac Avenue.
The 16 District will hold an online burglary prevention seminar from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 31. Participants are required to register by July 26 at www.chicagopolice.org.
For more information, call the 16th District CAPS office at 312-742-4521.
The committee’s Officer of the Month Award was given to Fabian Sanchez and Larry Hollie for their May 14 arrest of a man who was arrested in connection with burglaries to several parked vehicles near Panama Avenue and Addison Street.