Contact cards, footage lead to murder arrests


The use of contact cards and surveillance cameras played an important role in the recent arrests of three murder suspects and of a man with a handgun in his car, according to 16th (Jefferson Park) District police.

Video footage which showed the Oct. 14 fatal beating of a homeless man near Lipps and Lawrence avenues helped officers identify the suspects, and all of them were in custody 3 days later. Security cameras on nearby buildings captured the beating and the placement of the victim’s body in a dumpster.

The investigation was aided by the fact that at least two of the suspects had previous encounters with officers, and those incidents were recorded on contact cards that officers had filled out, commander Roger Bay said at the Oct. 21 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee.

The cards are used to record the names of suspicious individuals who are involved in disturbances, such as public drinking, which may not warrant an arrest. The card also may note identifying marks, such as tattoos, on the individuals being questioned by police.
"With these cards, the officers get familiar with these people, and that helps," Bay said.

A surveillance camera also helped lead to the Sept. 4 arrest of a man on drug and weapon charges after he was found sleeping in his parked vehicle in the 6000 block of West Montrose Avenue. Police were looking for the car because earlier it had been seen riding on a lawn near Harlem and Talcott avenues, and officers got a description of the car from footage taken by a surveillance camera, Bay said.

Officers woke the suspect and found suspected marijuana on the front seat of the car and a loaded gun in the glove compartment.

Surveillance footage also helped police arrest a homeless man who reportedly set several dumpster fires in September in the Jefferson Park commercial district near Higgins and Milwaukee avenues. One of the incidents was caught on a surveillance camera, and police later arrested a man who fit the description of the man in the video.

An arrest in the arson incidents would have been difficult without the video footage, Bay said. "This was his first Chicago arrest, so he was not known to us," he said.

The fatal beating of the man who was left in a dumpster marks the seventh murder in the district this year. "Fortunately these all have been cleared," Bay said. "All (of the victims) knew the persons responsible."

It also was reported that the number of reported robberies and burglaries in the district could hit a 40-year low. The number of robberies through mid-October is 77, compared to 143 for all of last year. In the 1980s as many as 300 robberies were reported in some years.
The number of burglaries reported is 417 compared, to 718 for all of 2013. As many as 1,600 burglaries were reported in some years in the 1980s.

The committee honored Manuel Hernandez, Nicholas Hertko and Heather Serrano as "Officer of the Month" for their Aug. 19 arrest of a man who was allegedly was selling marijuana outside his apartment building in the 5200 block of North Potawatomie Avenue. A gun that had been reported stolen was found in the suspect’s bedroom, police said.