Traffic flow issue near school discussed at DAC meeting


Traffic flow issues near Prussing School, an increase in vehicle thefts and the assignment of new police officers were discussed at the Feb. 16 meeting of the 16th (Jefferson Park) District Advisory Committee.

16th District commander William Looney said that the he is investigating parking and traffic problems near Menard and Eastwood avenues that are related to the use of Prussing as a central drop-off and pick-up location for 12 buses transporting students to other schools.

To save money, the Chicago Public Schools uses regional bus stops for children who are enrolled in gifted, special needs and other programs that are not at their neighborhood school.

Looney said that traffic is congested around Prussing at starting and dismissal times because the school is one of the most crowded in the city and that the situation could be made worse next year when work starts on an annex for the school, 4650 N. Menard Ave.

The district is working with school officials to find another location for the buses to stop and that one of the suggested locations is the former Our Lady of Victory School, 4434 N. Laramie Ave., which closed last year as part of an Archdiocese of Chicago consolidation plan.

It also was reported that through Feb. 12 there have been 70 vehicle thefts in the district this year compared to 46 during the same period last year, and 27 of the thefts this year involved unlocked cars with the engine left running. When patrol officers find unattended vehicles with the engine on, they run the license plate in attempt to find the owners and have them return to their vehicle, Looney said.

The number of commercial and residential burglaries reported in the district this year is 79, compared to 104 last year, and most of them have occurred in the southern portion of the district, Looney said.

Four training officers recently were assigned to the district, and they will work with Police Academy graduates, Looney said. "That would give us some young blood," he said.

It also was reported that in January officers found 18 stolen laptop computers at Ezua Tech, 4948 W. Irving Park Road. Two handguns also were found at the store, police said.

Officers went to the store after receiving a tip from a woman who had several items stolen from her vehicle, according to police.

The district turned over information from its investigation to the city Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which regulates business licenses, Looney said. "It wasn’t a pawn shop," he said. "They shouldn’t be taking in these items."

The committee presented a citizen appreciation award to Tom O’Brien, the manager of BRGRBELLY Restaurant, 5739 W. Irving Park Road, for his assistance in the arrest of a man who was charged with the Jan. 18 burglary of the restaurant. O’Brien provided surveillance footage of the incident and recognized the intruder as an area resident.

The committee also honored sergeant Jack Axium and officers Joseph Ramirez and Joseph Kelly for their Dec. 3 arrest of four suspects in connection with vehicle break-ins. One of the suspects was seen looking for unlocked cars by trying door handles, police said.

Looney said that unlocked vehicles account for a significant number of break-ins in the district.