by Jacqueline Covey

At the Streeterville CAPS meeting, 6 p.m., Jan. 2 at Living Access, discussion focused on neighborhood justice activities and when to contact the police. 

Officer Al Robinson reported to residents that calls to service were up. Calls to service are the number of times “the phone rings” with a resident complaint. “That’s good,” he said.

Robinson said, upon a report of a crime, the area remains on police radar, even if the officer response didn’t result in an arrest. For the best results when reporting a crime, Robinson said to always provide as detailed a description as possible of the alleged criminal. 

“Don’t ever think that you’re wasting our time by calling us,” Robinson said. “Call us.” 

A resident pressed officers at the meeting about repeat offenders, and what can be done to end the cycle of crime. 

“You’ve done your job, involved in the court system and then, oopsie daisies, they’re out,” one resident said, expressing concern about the justice system. 

Robinson said the answer is to get involved. The court advocacy program operates in each policing district and follows the court cases and outcomes of incidents that occurred in each neighborhood which may be of interest to the community.

Residents are vetted and introduced to the court system as advocates for the community. They follow one of the 56 current cases in their district and provide a sense of not-in-my-backyard justice in the city. 

“We hope the judge sees this participation and gives a harsher sentence,” Robinson said.

The advocacy program is a response to crime and wrongdoing, as it’s meant to show unity in numbers. 

“(We’re) speaking out for the community that doesn’t have a voice because they’re not (in the courtroom),” Sgt. Christopher Schenk said. 

A resident who leads a neighborhood advocacy program said these types of activities make an impression on Chicago’s court system. The resident also called for neighborhood reforms and enforcement of a geographical restriction for repeat criminal offenders. 

The resident said they recognize “habitual characters” causing trouble in neighborhoods they do not live in.

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