Police patrols increase near Indian Road





by BRIAN NADIG

The announcement of a new task force to combat carjackings in the city and the introduction of new 17th (Albany Park) Police District commander Susan Moss were the highlights of a Feb. 1 community meeting hosted by Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th).

Area North deputy chief Al Nagode said that the task force includes representatives from city, state and federal law enforcement agencies in an effort to combat a recent 40-percent increase in the number of reported vehicular hijackings in the Chicago area.

Tougher prosecution may be one way to deter would-be assailants from committing these robberies, Nagode said.

"We’re going to try to take a couple of these cases to the federal level," he said.

In some instances, victims have reported that their car was stolen after another vehicle had bumped into it, Nagode said. After the driver exits the vehicle to check the damage, the thieves get in the victim’s car and drive away, he said.

Other incidents have occurred while the driver is waiting for their car to warm up, especially at gas stations, Nagode said.

Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson was scheduled speak at the meeting but had to cancel at the last minute due to other police matters, according to Laurino. The meeting was held at the Polish National Alliance, 6100 N. Cicero Ave.

"This is my first official day as (17th District) commander, and I have some pretty big shoes to fill," Moss told the crowd of about 300 people. Moss replaced Elias Voulgaris, who was appointed as police commander at the city Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Moss, who recently served as a watch operations lieutenant in the 12th (Near West) Police District, received a Bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois and joined the police force in 1986. Growing up in Edison Park, she attended Ebinger School and Taft High School.

Officials encouraged residents to report crimes to police, noting that resources are often allocated to districts based on the number of reported crimes.

"Absolutely, call 911 first and then go on the blog," Voulgaris said. "It does no good if you post on social media if you’re not notifying the police."

Moss said that 911 should be called for crimes in progress or when the offender is still in the area.

"If it’s something you discover after the fact, call 311," she said.

It also was announced at the meeting that the 17th District is being assigned five additional police officers.

16th (Jefferson Park) Police District commander William Looney said that the district, which has had a reputation for attracting older officers, has 30 officers with 3 years or less of experience. "The 16th District is getting younger," he said.

Also at the meeting, community policing deputy chief Dwayne Betts said that the department’s "community engagement" strategy encourages officers to talk to the residents in the neighborhoods that they are patrolling because people are more likely to report crimes if they know and trust an officer.

"Your block will be a little safer if you know that officer’s name," Betts said.

Before and after the meeting, members of Northwest Side Unite circulated petitions calling for more officers in the 16th District. The district has about 215 patrol officers compared to about 270 in the early 2000s.

Police officials also reported that a male juvenile was arrested in connection with the Dec. 11 armed robbery of Spa Nail City, 4151 W. Peterson Ave. A second assailant in the incident has not been identified, police said.

In a press release, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Johnson said that a total of 83 officers have been deployed to their district assignments, as part of the plan to grow the department by 970 police officers.

"These men and women answered the call to protect their communities, serve their city and ‘Be The Change,’" said Emanuel. "But while we are on the path and heading in the right direction, there is more work to be done. We are one Chicago with one future, and they are going to be part of ensuring it is a safer, stronger future for all of us."

"Today, neighborhoods across the city are welcoming new police officers that have been trained to focus their efforts on making our streets safer and building partnerships with residents to become true community police officers," Johnson said. "These new officers have received training based upon best practices in law enforcement and will be among the first officers to receive annual training throughout their entire career. This is an exciting time to join CPD and I encourage anyone who wants to help us make this Department better to apply during this application period."