Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wrigleyville, Belmont To Get Tax-Funded Security Patrols

Emergency personnel on the scene of a double-shooting at Belmont and Sheffield last summer. | CWB Chicago reader
Local tax dollars will be used to provide private security patrols for Wrigleyville and the high-crime Belmont Avenue corridor between Halsted and Racine according to a Request For Proposals issued by the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce.

Funds will also go toward establishing a "private security and chamber office" at the high-crime intersection of Belmont and Sheffield.

44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney announced the proposal in a newsletter to constituents on Thursday afternoon, just 25 hours before the filing deadline.

The tax dollars will be drawn from "Special Service Area 17," a long-operating special tax area that the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce is overseeing for the first time in 2017.

Request for Proposals

The LVECC says it is seeking a state-licensed security contractor "to keep patrons and area residents safe" and it expects successful bidders to "identify 'hot spots' and [to] staff accordingly" with peak operations running from mid-March through October.

Notably, the deadline for bids is tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Walsh Security, a firm operated by Chicago police officer Thomas Walsh, currently provides security services to the Special Service Area that includes Boystown's Halsted bar strip.

Walsh Security is also under contract to provide armed guards to the Center on Halsted and a neighboring Whole Foods.

Officer Walsh works in the 19th District's community policing office and he routinely leads the conversation at neighborhood CAPS meetings.

SSA 17 includes Sheffield Avenue from Diversey to Irving Park; Clark Street from Fletcher to Byron; and Belmont Avenue from Halsted to Racine.

Time For A Change

SSA funds are supposed to be used to spruce up streetscapes, enhance security, and boost business along specific corridors.

SSA 17's funds were previously managed by the embarrassingly-run Central Lakeview Merchants Association, which renamed itself "Chicago View" and poured its efforts into (of all things) a print magazine.

For two recent years, "Chicago View" felt that SSA funds would be well-spent by tying undecorated Christmas trees to lamp poles around the area.

When neighbors express concern that tax dollars were being used for the ill-conceived holiday idea, then-SSA 17 Executive Director Gus Isacson told DNAInfo Chicago, "What do they care where the money comes from?"

Tunney stripped SSA 17's operations away from Chicago View in November after cries of poor service and misplaced priorities became too loud for the city to ignore.

"The city wanted to revisit, frankly, how they spend taxpayer money," Tunney aide Chris Jessup told DNAInfo at the time.
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DePaul Student Robbed At Gunpoint Near LP Campus

A DePaul University student was robbed at gunpoint near the school’s Lincoln Park campus Wednesday afternoon according to police and DePaul’s Office of Public Safety.

The 20-year-old student told police that the robber approached him in the 2400 block of North Seminary around 2:30 p.m., pulled out a silver semi-automatic handgun and demanded his property.

After receiving the victim’s wallet and iPhone, the offender fled eastbound on Montana.

According to the victim, the gunman is a 20-year-old black man with a short beard. The robber wore a white baseball hat, a gray hoodie, black jogging pants, and white gym shoes.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Man Shot In Uptown Tuesday Is "Uncooperative," Cops Say

Paramedics treat Tuesday's gunshot victim in the 900 block of West Wilson | UptownChicago.Rocks

A 36-year-old  man became Uptown’s third gunshot victim of the new year Tuesday night.

Police said the man was shot in the leg outside of 921 West Wilson shortly after 6 p.m. He fell to the ground a few doors away with a wound to his right thigh.

The 900 block of West Wilson is blocked off for Tuesday's shooting investigation. | UptownChicago.Rocks

Windows were also shot out at two nearby buildings, according to witnesses.

“Nuts, huh?” nearby resident Yehuda Rothschild‎ said. “This is the third [shooting] in the last year that I was right there for.”

Cops said the victim, who lives in the West Side’s Austin neighborhood, is not cooperating with their investigation. He was reported in good condition at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Arrest records show that the victim was charged with DUI in the 3100 block of North Lake Shore Drive last March and theft of labor or services in the Loop two years before that.
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Feds Slam Police Academy As Rahm Promises To Train 1,000s Of New Cadets

A “use of force” training video that cadets watch at the Chicago Police Department’s academy is 35 years old.

35 years ago, Chicago cops drove these. | CopCarDotCom
The video has been in the department eight years longer than Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

Not only is the video old, according to the US Department of Justice’s new report on Chicago’s police, it is "inconsistent with both current law and CPD's own policies.”

The relatively good news is that some cadets sleep through the movie.

So, here we are.

Four months after Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to replenish the ranks of the Chicago Police Department by hiring 1,000 new cops over the course of two years, there appears to be a big, big problem.

The federal review slams CPD’s training program as “outdated” and “severely deficient.” And those are the nice parts.

Under Emanuel’s watch, the department has lost over 1,000 cops as the mayor refused to hire enough new officers to keep up with retirements and other separations.

Our local district alone has lost 100 officers under Emanuel.

Now, there are hundreds of more retirements set for 2017, and the city finds itself playing catch-up with an academy that suffers from “severe deficiencies that impede recruits’ preparedness to police constitutionally and safely,” the federal report said.

But, what is the alternative to exposing a surge of new trainees to lousy instruction? Should Chicago outsource its training to a properly-run academy until the city can get its act together? Yes. But that seems politically impossible.

At the same time, it’s difficult to imagine that the department can suddenly offer world-class training while simultaneously cranking out a record number of new cops.

As it is, academy instructors can’t even keep the cadets awake, the feds said.

DOJ observers who watched a use of force class at the academy said “several recruits were not paying attention, one appeared to be sleeping, and there was minimal attempt made to engage the students in the lesson…the instructor arrived to the class ten minutes late and dismissed students twenty minutes early from this critical class on how CPD officers should use deadly force.”

Not surprisingly, when investigators asked recent academy graduates to explain the legal standard for the use of force, only one in six could do it.

Investigators also found that cadets are being taught old techniques that would put their lives at risk on the street.

Elsewhere in the academy building, a gun storage room was found “unlocked with loaded guns left in open…unattended” and “training guns and ammunition were stored close to guns loaded with live rounds,” according to the report.

Once out of the academy, newly-minted cops spend months working the streets with a Field Training Officer (FTO) at their sides.

Yet the FTO program itself “is poorly structured and operates in a manner that actively undermines, rather than reinforces, constitutional policing,” the report said.

CPD executives candidly told investigators that the department’s on-the-street training is a “hot mess, “terrible,” and “simply ‘warm butts in a seat.’”

The FTO program has been a failure for so long, police blog Second City Cop said it was "in a shambles — and that's being kind " 2006.

Even the department’s recent boast of having trained thousands of veteran police officers to use a new cache of Tasers came under fire.

The department’s Taser training was poorly handled and rushed, investigators found. And cops were expected to learn to use the devices "without proper curriculum, staff or equipment."

Cops told the feds that they left the Taser training sessions feeling confused about how and when to use the less-lethal system.

Overall, the academy’s instructors are not up to snuff, the report said, and there weren’t enough trainers to properly instruct last year’s cadets. And that was before Emanuel’s desperate hiring surge.
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Man Who Attacked Lakeview Senior Gets 50% Off His Prison Sentence (But Some Say Illinois Is Too Tough On Criminals)

Career criminal Larry Tolliver will get 50% off his sentence for this attack on a 74-year-old woman. 
A career criminal who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for battering and robbing an elderly woman in her Lakeview senior center's lobby on Easter morning 2016 should be released in just 10 years, the State of Illinois has decided.

Tolliver | Illinois Dept Of Corrections
Larry Tolliver, a 59-year-old career criminal, will be paroled on April 3, 2026, according to state records.

Tolliver has been sentenced to a combined 111 years in prison for 19 different felony convictions since 1981. Despite that, the state has once again decided that he deserves the standard privilege of a 50% sentence reduction that most Illinois inmates receive.

We often refer to Illinois as a "criminal-friendly" state and Tolliver's case is a shining example of just how cushy the Land of Lincoln can be, even for repeated violent offenders.

Now, there are movements afoot to make Cook County an even better place to steal, rob, and cheat your way through life.

For example, shoplifters in Cook County should not face felony charges unless the value of their stolen merchandise exceeds $1,000 or the offender has more than 10 prior felony convictions, says newly-elected Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.

Prosecutors in Foxx’s office were told last month to follow those internal guidelines even though state law calls sets the felony shoplifting threshold at $500.

Foxx’s move is one of several changes proposed or being carried out by various state and local offices that some people see as being friendly to criminals and others see as being progressive and balanced.

Among other recent initiatives that have been announced are a proposal by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to “eliminate” the cash bond system; a plan to reduce Illinois’ inmate population by 25% over the next decade; and a move by three Chicago aldermen to allow individuals with minor criminal convictions to become city police officers.

Get Out of Jail 

Thanks to new administrative rules, the Cook County Jail population has fallen to its lowest level in 25 years, allowing authorities to tear down three cell blocks at the sprawling detention center at 26th Street and California Avenue.

“Jails are for violent people,” Dart said “We are always going to have places for them here. But for the non-violent people, for the mentally ill, they don’t need to be here.”

No Bond?

Dart last month recommended that Cook County do away with its cash bond system, which he says is unfair to lower-income defendants.

The bail system has been used for centuries to ensure that accused individuals have a financial incentive to show up for their day in court. But Dart and others think too many of the wrong people are caught up in an unfair system.

“People are in here because they committed an insignificant crime and can't pay an insignificant bond because they're poor,” Dart said. Ideally, “if you're dangerous, you [should be] in jail. If you're not dangerous, you [should be] at home. The fact that you can't come up with $100 is irrelevant."

Dart wants a no-cash bond system that would use “intensive background checks” to determine if arrestees are “dangerous to society.” Only those found to be dangerous would be held in jail under Dart’s plan.

Other Illinois sheriffs have expressed reservations about Dart’s proposal, which would require action by the state’s legislature.

Knox County (IL) Sheriff Captain Dave Caslin questions Dart’s proposal.

“It’s almost like they’re talking about a probation review before someone is put on probation,” Caslin said. “Over the years, I know there have been times where a burglar will commit burglaries while he’s on bond. I know there are times where people arrested for drug offenses, while they’re out on bond, (they) commit (more) drug offenses … People, after they serve their time, likely will go do the same thing again.”

In Sangamon County, Sheriff Wes Barr pointed out that Illinois judges already have discretion in setting bond.

“If the judge wants to let somebody out of jail and put them on an electronic monitoring system, they already have the ability to do that. From my thoughts, the cash bond system that is currently in place is appropriate.”

Cons To Cops?

Three Chicago aldermen recently announced plans to hold hearings to determine if the Chicago Police Department should hire people who have been convicted of “minor drug and criminal offenses.”

Aldermen Ed Burke, George Cardenas, and Roderick Sawyer want to reduce restrictions that “can often prevent minorities from successfully applying for positions in law enforcement."

”It does not seem right to allow a minor offense to follow someone for the rest of their life,” Cardenas said, “especially when they can demonstrate that the incident has no bearing on the life that they lead today.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel seemed to be open to the idea.

“If somebody did something when they were 16 or 17, that doesn't become an entire impossibility, as long as it's not serious, to joining a police department," he said.

But Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo was quick to raise concerns about more liberal hiring standards in a time of increased scrutiny of police work.

“The Chicago Police Department should be looking at raising standards, not lowering them,” Angelo said.

“When a police officer walks into a drug house with a search warrant, and there’s mass amounts of currency there, that’s a situation where your moral and ethical compass has got to be pointed in the right direction. You have to ensure you’re not tempted by that. Same thing with drug use,” Angelo said.

Angelo also referred to the proposals put forth by Foxx and Dart.

“They don’t want to give anybody any bond anymore. They want to have people who have stolen $1,000 worth of property charged with a felony, only if it’s their 10th offense,” he said. “So they’re minimizing criminal activity…and now, it’s almost as if [they want those offenders] into the police academy.”

Emptying Prisons

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is also proposing changes to the state’s criminal justice system, with a goal of reducing the state’s prison population by 25% before the year 2025.

Illinois inmates (even Larry Tolliver) already enjoy an automatic 50% reduction in their sentences when they report to prison. Their sentences are further reduced by day-for-day credits for time they spent in local jails awaiting the outcome of their cases.

Now, a state commission hopes to reduce prison population further by encouraging the Department of Corrections to use non-prison alternatives such as electronic monitoring for short sentences. They also want to slash minimum sentences for nearly all felonies.

The population at Illinois prisons dropped to 44,680 as of June, down more than 5% since July 2015. Prison inmate counts are down nearly 10% since 2014. The state’s system was designed to handle 32,000 prisoners.

But critics of the state system say the focus should be on how much the state’s prison system has grown. Illinois housed just 6,000 inmates in 1974.

Results or Wrong-headed?

According to FBI data, crime in Illinois has fallen 50% since 1974.

The state recorded 627 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 1974, but only 383 violent crimes per 100,000 residents last year.

Overall, the Illinois crime index has fallen from 5,184 cases per 100,000 to 2,372 cases per 100,000 over the past 40 years, according to the federal agency.
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

3 Women Robbed By Gunman On Same Block; Suspect In Custody

Locations of three robberies at gunpoint in the 900 block of W. Fletcher this week. | Google

UPDATE 4:51 p.m. — Additional information about the offender is not available because he is a juvenile. “Police found the victim's phone and a black replica handgun on the suspect,” according to local Alderman Tom Tunney.

CWB Chicago's original report follows.
Three women were robbed at gunpoint within 16 hours on a single Lakeview East street this week. Incredibly, all of the women live within five houses of each other.

Now, detectives are working to determine if the man cops captured after the third incident is responsible for the earlier cases.

The women were all robbed in the 900 block of West Fletcher—that’s one block south of Belmont—between 7:30 p.m. Monday and 10:45 a.m. Tuesday.

In the first case, a woman told cops that a teenager pointed a gun at her and took her iPhone and Ventra card before he ran westbound on Fletcher toward Sheffield. She described the gunman as black, male, 16- to 17-years-old, wearing a sports team winter cap, a black jacket, and black track pants. Less than 30 minutes after the hold-up, the woman’s phone was tracked heading westbound from the Roosevelt Red Line station, police said.

Then, just before 11 p.m. on Monday, another woman was robbed at gunpoint by a man in virtually the same location. The robber took $30 from the second woman and then ran eastbound on Fletcher. He was said to be black and wearing gray sweatpants and an orange hoodie.

But the third time ended differently.

At 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, police once again rushed to the 900 block of Fletcher after a woman was robbed at gunpoint near Sheffield Avenue.

The woman told police that a gunman in his early 20’s displayed a handgun and took her iPhone. Police soon found a suspect matching the offender’s description—black, early 20’s, wearing a winter cap and a Shedd Aquarium jacket—walking in the 3200 block of North Kenmore.

The man was arrested after the victim identified him as the offender, police said.

CWB Chicago will have further information on Friday.
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Monday, January 09, 2017

Most People Never Get Their Faces On CWB, These Goofs Have Done It Twice

The revolving door of Cook County’s crime-friendly justice system keeps spinning.

Wolkow | Chicago Police Dept
You may remember Thomas Wolkow. He and two others were charged with possessing a pellet gun, theft, reckless conduct, and criminal damage to property after cops said the trio shot out car windows near the Sheridan Red Line station in late October. Officers found thirteen cell phones in the group’s possession.

Well, on December 21, Cook County Judge Joseph Panarese ordered the crew’s pellet gun to be destroyed, and he then threw out all of the charges.

The very next night—-yes, that’s right, the next night—Wolkow was arrested after a Boystown resident said he saw Wolkow enter their neighbor’s yard and kick in the garage door in the 3500 block of North Reta.

Wolkow, 22, is charged with criminal trespass to land and criminal damage to property.

Notably, in 2012, Wolkow was accused of possessing a pellet gun inside a Chicago Public Library. A different judge threw out that charge within weeks.

Green | Cook County Sheriff
• Then there’s Mitchell Green, who was charged with robbing a CVS Pharmacy near Halsted and Fullerton in October. He managed to get out on bail and has now been arrested again for allegedly stealing from a Boystown Jewel-Osco store.

Prosecutors say Green, 33, tried to steal deviled eggs and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from Jewel on December 26.

Green has been charged with one felony count of retail theft with a previous conviction and service of a warrant for failing to appear in court for the CVS robbery case. A judge ordered him held without bail.

Court records show Green has been convicted of retail theft nine times in the past ten years. CPD records show he has been arrested eight times near Fullerton and Lincoln over the previous two years and he’s been arrested another eight times near Clark and Diversey and the Belmont Red Line station.

Lakes | Ill Dept of Corrections
• Finally, Roger Lakes.

Lakes was convicted of taking part in the brutal beating and robbery of a man under the Belmont L tracks in June 2014. He received a five-year sentence but, since Illinois loves criminals so much, he managed to get released on parole last May—less than two years after attacking the man.

But, criminals being criminals, Lakes just couldn’t go straight. Prosecutors say he sold suspected crack cocaine to an undercover cop near Truman College in late November.

He was found in violation of parole and is now back at Stateville Correctional Center, where he will remain until May 27, 2018. That’s still less than five years in prison, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Police say he is an admitted Gangster Disciple street gang member.
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POOF! Discarded Christmas Tree Too Tempting For Boystown Fire Bug

Screen grabs of a man setting fire to a discarded Christmas tree early Sunday morning. | Scott Montgomery

Hey, if you have an old, dry Christmas tree lying in the alley, near your garage, or possibly close to your wooden back deck, this video may convince you to move it.

A couple of ne'er-do-wells came across a discarded tree in the 3400 block of North Elaine Place this weekend and decided to set it ablaze. And if you've never seen a Christmas tree burn, you're in for a treat.

This video was captured on reader Scott Montgomery's Nest camera system. He's lucky that he still has a deck. And, considering that this "prank" unfolded while most people were sleeping at 3:30 a.m., the idiots who set the fire are lucky that it didn't spread.
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Boy Beaten, Maced, Robbed Near Belmont Red Line Station

A 13-year-old boy was maced and mugged by two men near the Belmont Red Line station Friday evening.

The boy was in the 900 block of West Belmont when two men dressed as women beat him up, doused him with pepper spray, and stole his iPhone, according to a witness who saw the incident unfold around 5:15 p.m.

Both offenders fled toward Halsted Street.

The robbers are in their late teens to early 20’s, about 5’10” tall, and thin. Both were dressed in women’s clothing and wore black hoodies.

Doctors at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center treated the boy for his injuries.

In other weekend muggings:

• A 22-year-old man was severely beaten and robbed near HVAC bar, 3530 North Clark, in Wrigleyville early Saturday. No offender description was immediately available. The victim was treated at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

• Another man was robbed of a $1,000 Pelle Pelle leather coat near the Wild Hare, 2610 N. Halsted, in Lincoln Park on Saturday. The victim told police that two men armed with a handgun took his “black coat with white rhinestones” and fled shortly before 3 a.m. One suspect was arrested.
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Lakeview Bank Robbed, Reward Offered

A man who claimed to be carrying a bomb robbed a bank near the Sheridan Red Line station Friday afternoon, police said. No one is in custody.

The robber, decked out in a bright orange jumpsuit with reflective stripes, entered the Chase Bank at 3956 N. Sheridan just after 2 p.m. and made off with an estimated $4,000.

The FBI says the offender as a 40-year-old white man who stands 5’9” to 6-feet tall, with a thin to medium build.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call the FBI Chicago office at (312) 421-6700.

A reward is being offered.
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