Officers seeking to improve relationships


The 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District plans to have its officers visit block parties this summer as part of a citywide effort to improve the perception of the police force.

"Just the opportunity for the kids to sound the siren is something that they’ll remember, and I’m fine with that," commander Roger Bay said at the July 21 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee.

Police officials have been meeting with community leaders throughout the city in an effort to devise public relations initiatives for the Chicago Police Department.

Bay said that the only contact that people have with the police often occurs while they are being arrested or are reporting a crime and the department hopes to change that. "We want officers to get out and talk to people more, even if it’s 15 minutes at a block party," he said.

It also was reported at the meeting that a 17-year-old suspected gang member was arrested at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, June 13, in connection with the burglary of a garage in the 5200 block of West School Street. Two residents reported that they saw the suspect kick in the garage door, according to police.

It also was reported that more than 5,000 grams of drugs, including marijuana, crack cocaine and ecstasy, and several handguns and shotguns were recovered after officers responded to a burglar alarm at an apartment in the 7500 block of West Irving Park Road at about 9:15 a.m. Sunday, June 7. It turned out to be a false alarm, but a man who lives in the apartment was arrested on gun and drug charges, police said. The suspect was identified by police as Christian T. Gonzalez, age 34, of the Irving Park address.

Also, a man was arrested in connection with what Bay described as a rare robbery in Edison Park. A gunman fled after he unsuccessfully attempted to steal money from a couple about 1:15 p.m. Monday, June 29, in the 6600 block of North Northwest Highway, according to police.

The suspect, who was identified by police as Kenneth Garcia, age 40, of the 4900 block of North Kostner Avenue, was arrested after officers found him in the back seat of a parked car, police said. The suspect had dropped the keys to his car, and officers found the keys on the ground next to the car, police said.