16th Police District may begin a program aimed at giving teenagers a sample of law enforcement careers


The 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District may begin a program next year aimed at giving teenagers and young adults a sample of law enforcement careers, and the district is looking into ways to provide intervention services for homeless individuals.

“This is about developing leadership, teaching discipline and helping them become good citizens,” 16th District commander Roger Bay said of the proposed program for those age 14 to 21. Bay discussed the program at the Nov. 18 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee.

Details of the program are being worked out, but it would be intended to give youths “a taste” of the duties and responsibilities of police officers, Bay said. Mock crime scenes may be set up, and participants would learn about the Chicago Police Department’s divisions, including canine units and bike patrols, he said.

At one time the 16th District had an Explorer Program which was affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, but it was dropped many years ago. The explorer cadets would help with crowd control at events in the district.

The district also is seeking to resolve the issue of homeless people at the Jefferson Park CTA station, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., and in other parts of the district. Bay said that it is not uncommon for homeless individuals to suffer from mental illness and that several district officers recently received training that should help them identify those who are in need of crisis intervention.

Bay said that one of the challenges in dealing with the homeless is getting them to agree to seek treatment. “There are people who will never accept help,” he said. “They already have been through the system. They may accept a sandwich and then they’ll walk away.”

The district is planning to work with Presence Health Care and local social services, and in some instances medical and social workers will meet with the homeless.

It also was reported that four juveniles were arrested on Oct. 7 after police received a report of high school students trying to break into a home near Berenice and Central avenues. Two of the suspects were found carrying bags containing items that were reported stolen from a home in the 5500 block of West Grace Street, where the rear door of a second home on the block was forced open, police said.

It also was reported that on Oct. 16 a 75-year-old woman who suffers from dementia tried to cash a $7,000 check for male individuals who claimed to be her nephews and to have performed tuckpointing work at her house. An employee at Bank of America, 4825 N. Austin Ave., became suspicious and called police, and officers arrested two suspects, police said.

The committee honored Eugenio Espino and Paul White as “Officer of the Month” for their arrest in September of a man who had set several garbage containers on fire near Milwaukee and Higgins avenues.