Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Private Patrols Bring Low Transparency And Mixed Missions

This is Part Three of a three-part series on the relationship between policing and private security patrols in Wrigleyville and Boystown. See Part One HERE.  Part Two HERE.  See Sidebar HERE.

A key point about privately-funded patrols on the public way was raised in the opening paragraphs of a 2014 report by the National Institutes of Justice and Harvard’s Kennedy School:
The interests of private parties will rarely, if ever, be fully aligned with public interests.
People on the street may be hard pressed to figure out who a security guard is, who they’re working for, or who to contact about service concerns.

And privately-funded security patrols essentially report to no one but the people who pay them. Unlike police reports, the reports and documents of privately-paid patrols are not subject to public review.

Short of a court order, if the people with the money don’t want to release information about their patrols, they don’t have to.

But private patrols that are paid for with special tax money are different.

Because neighborhood tax dollars are used to pay for so-called Special Service Area (SSA) security efforts, those patrols are subject to public review.

Two patrols in East Lakeview, one along Broadway and another on Belmont and Clark streets, are funded with tax dollars from two SSAs managed by the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce.

A rainbow column in Boystown | Damian Entwistle on Flickr
The patrols' finances, reports, and records are all discoverable under the state’s Freedom of Information Act, and the city specifically reserves the right to approve security contractors who receive tax dollars.

Another SSA in our area spends funds from a special tax applied to the Halsted Street bar district in Boystown.

Unlike other SSAs that are just now getting into the private patrol act, SSA #18, managed by the Northalsted Business Alliance (NBA), stopped paying for security in 2014, according to public records.

Since then, private security patrols on Halsted Street have been paid with NBA’s organizational funds instead of with tax dollars.

The decision to use NBA funds instead of tax dollars to pay for security allowed the Alliance to do two things: Keep its security information private and hire a local Chicago police officer to lead its patrols. (City employees are prohibited from having an interest in contracts worth more than $1,000 in taxpayer business.)

The final publicly-available security report for Northalsted was written by LA Thomas Security Corporation in October 2013.

LA Thomas’ report details its activities month-by-month. The report also contained lists of local businesses that the firm considered “high incident locations” as well as “low incident” businesses.

Now that Northalsted's patrols are privately funded, such information is no longer available to the public.

Nor is information such as this, which appeared in LA Thomas' final report:
Excerpt from security contractor LA Thomas' report to SSA #18 | Northalsted Business Alliance
For those who didn’t catch that, the Northalsted security contractor said that its officers handcuffed and detained a person who was fighting with a local bar’s employees. An employee of the bar then struck the handcuffed person who was on the ground and walked away, according to the security contractor’s report.

Then, the private security firm “turned over authority” of the incident to the bar whose employee allegedly struck a handcuffed person.

As the Harvard report cited earlier said:
The interests of private parties will rarely, if ever, be fully aligned with public interests.
In recent years, the Northalsted Business Alliance has been paying Walsh Security—owned by 19th District Chicago Police Officer Thomas J. Walsh—for private patrols in Boystown.

And that is an interesting mix.

The Business Liaison

Officer Walsh has been working in the local district’s Community Policing office for years. For much of that time, he was the police department’s “business liaison” officer. He’s currently paid $90,024 a year by the police department.

The Northalsted security agreement created an unusual situation: As a cop, Officer Walsh could be in a position to investigate complaints against businesses who were paying him for private security services. Two years ago, Northalsted estimated its security expenses to be $75,000.

Similarly, Walsh’s private security company has provided guards for the Center on Halsted’s complex at 3656 North Halsted since at least 2012.

The Center paid Walsh $136,793 in 2016 and $137,850 in 2015, according to tax records. It did not mention Walsh’s company in previous years’ tax returns.

Yet Walsh would seemingly be called upon to handle policing matters with the Center while he also received large sums of money for private services.
A Walsh Security guard leans on a Chicago police car in Wrigleyville.
At the very least, Walsh regularly leads Wrigleyville and Boystown's community policing meetings--events where neighbors raise issues regarding the Center on Halsted, Northalsted-sponsored events, and businesses—but his private business interests have never been shared with the audience.

The line between Walsh’s job as the district's police "business liaison" and his private enterprise may have been fuzziest last June when then-19th District Commander Robert Cesario gave out Walsh Security’s phone number as a point of contact for Pride Parade and Pride Fest issues.

Even the Chicago City Council, a group not known for its ethical purity, has a clear-cut rule that members must “avoid even an appearance of impropriety” by abstaining from matters in which they have had a financial interest in the previous 12 months.

So, we asked Chicago Police Department spokesman Frank Giancamilli if the department has a similar policy.

“The Chicago Police Department holds its members to the highest professional standards in order to provide unparalleled service to every Chicagoan and to make our city safer,” he said. “Every police officer is expected to abide by the Rules and Regulations set forth by the Chicago Police Board and are held accountable when they do not meet these guidelines.”

The department’s Rules of Conduct lists 55 points that all Chicago police officers are expected to abide by. The rules range from not smoking while in contact with the public to not associating with a felon.

Giancamilli went on, “after being appointed as Commander of the 19th District in November, Commander [Marc] Buslik conducted a top to bottom analysis of district operations and determined that it was necessary to appoint a Sergeant rank member as liaison to the thriving business community. Subsequently, Officer Walsh was reassigned within the 19th District.”

Walsh declined to comment for our series. Northalsted executives did not respond to multiple requests for comment about their patrols.
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18 comments:

  1. Again, thanks for your incisive reporting of this matter. No where else could the public discover the truth behind the "facade" put up by some of our community "leaders". The sleaziness and corruption of these characters is, to use a British term, "gobsmacking"...

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  2. While having no knowledge of the requirements of transparency of different types of funds, the specifics Scarlet incident is no surprise. The owner of the bar, Paul Cannella, is a long time associate of Walsh and at times part of Walsh's bar hopping entourage. It would not be surprising if he was at the original Lucky Horseshoe incident. Cannella was on the Aliiance's board at the time and at one point was on their Security Committee. One would assume that role at least partially included sourcing and maintaining the Walsh Security contract. Walsh, the business liaison, has been asked to address the noise and rowdiness of that particular bar by neighbors. This has come up in open meetings. The circle of the Alliance board, the bar owners, the security team, and CPD is symbiotic while the relationship with the retailers, neighbors and frequenters of the street is left to deteriorate. Chicago has taught them well.

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    1. Maybe Mr. Paul should be more concerned about the potential fire hazards of overcrowding in his establishment with the absolutely-insane overcrowding that goes unaccounted for, and again with 0-repercussions with the protection of a certain local politician--and we all know who that is. It doesn't take a doctorate degree in Fire Marshall studies to realize when you are shoulder to shoulder with no wiggle room and takes 10 minutes to walk squeezing like a marshmallow from the dance floor 5 feet to the bar is a potential grave hazard in the making. Lets use some common sense, instead of just being obsessed with profits!!! In the 1 year anniversary of Pulse Nightclub, a lesson should be learned, the safety of the patrons should come first and foremost over greedy profits of young twink 20 somethings who don't know better that there is a serious danger if an incident actually happened. Its called LEGAL L-I-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y which this particular bar needs to do their homework on instead of being obsessed with hocking biodegradable products and the sales of dog feces bags. I won't share a link, because I don't want him to further profit.

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    2. Scarlet was already ticketed for having over 200 people in a space approved of 100. It was either on market days or Pride. They have been able to dodge the fire marshal since. A second major ticket would have to be a big problem.

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  3. It's interesting how all this shit can be exposed now because back in the day it had to be tolerated and kept hush because we couldn't let anyone know we were gay.

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  4. There used to be video online of a doorman at Scarlet holding down an African American man very physically while a surrounding crowd chanted “ I can’t breathe”. I couldn’t find the URL but it was a Pride or Market Days. The punching the handcuffed person and the videotaped incident are examples of how physical the doorman and club security have gotten. Many of these bars have what seem line racist door policies with dress codes to block their unwanted element. For Scarlet, their line crowds the street and is VERY young (read questionably 21). Their smokers pour into the sidewalk, are over served and are leaving a packed like a sardine space. It shouldn’t be a surprise that fights between the employees, guests and agitated bystanders combusted. From afar it seems the bars would rather push the safety boundaries and count on the Chicago-way to make problems go away and Walsh is clearly part of the Chicago-way. For the security patrol, the doorman and the bar’s security, no one seems trained. Instead of helping solve the root cause of the problem, the walking patrols tell the bars when the Fire Marshal is making their rounds. They often act as the bar’s advocates versus the neighborhoods. It is all counterproductive and the neighbors pay the price.

    I am not sure the answer to the mess, but getting the basics right can’t hurt. The tenders and doorman should be trained on deescalating tense situations. The bartenders need to monitor over served patrons. The bars need to avoid overcrowding and manage to their legal capacities. The stakeholders all must have a single shared goal versus what seems to be a goal of avoiding lawsuits and maximizing revenue especially at the bars and Walsh Security.

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  5. Scarlet has always been over capacity. To the tenth degree on college Thursday's or weeekends. Been inside twice and afraid if there was a fire 🔥 people would be trampled to death. Fire marshalls have come there in past and was shushed away by vest security and their fake police costumes. Any layperson can see how being there during a crowded Friday or Saturday it's a tragedy in the making and yet another conflict of this security company how they are actually not for the safety of the bar patrons or public but will always side and protect the few bars that pay for "protection". Reminds me of what the mob did back in the day. If you didn't pay to be protected by the cops or mob , you were ostracized and payback was futile

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  6. You would think Scarlet would be afraid of fire there! Their new second front door is an E2 stampede tragedy waiting to happen. instead of a dangerous door, they could just turn down the music. For safety sake, once Walsh Security is gone, hopefully these powderkegs are addressed.

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  7. Funny how this private "security company" very openly allows Hydrate to blast music past 5:00am on weekends and then allows thugs to hang out not on the sidewalk there but out in the street until well past 6:00am. Add to that the car horns and telling abd general noise. Not very considerate of the neighbors (I.e., the taxpaying residents of the area.)

    The Scarlett situation needs to be investigated immediately. That is a fire trap disaster just waiting to happen.

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  8. How the "F" does Scarlet or any bars issues have anything to do with NHA or Walsh Security??

    Yes Scareltt way over crowds and way over serves, so do several other of the bars there and that is the Fire Marshal, that is thier right, this is not the Public Library. The theghetto street scums and center on Halsted scum that lurks in Boystown and East Lake view is over whelming and destroying the area and these low life scum bag / thugs are only hanging out there to cause HAVAC usally from 8pm till 6am to cause problems. Btw Walsh security is not going anywhere because of some bull***T witch hunting Blog (CWB) Walsh Security does a great job on Halsted and other areas and is more liked then they are hated, 90% of this is complete twisted bullshit brought on by a Security Company competitor and disgruntle people.

    There is 98% good being done out there on Halsted and various other patrol areas by Walsh Security, And maybe just maybe 2% bad and just like in any job and or a persons life, mistakes get made, we learn from it and grow stronger from it.

    STOP making these guys look bad because they are NOT, they make a difference down there and even most of CPD agrees to that. I do however agree that Walsh should have been removed as the business Liaison Officer and he was its not ethical and its a conflict of morals.But problem was solved so move on..... Just cause you say and twist it does not make it a fact, guess what, Elvis and Michael Jackson all live at the North pole with Santa Claus. Focus on the real problem the VIOLENCE in the city like in the East lake View area. The Police and Security are NOT your enemy, the guy lurking in the shadows to do your harm/rob you is, your gona need these guys one day and you will regret what you are doing here they face danger and violence out there every day for bull***t pay because they want to make a difference and they care...

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    1. We usually trash comments when we get to phrases like "low life scum bag / thugs," and "theghetto street scums and center on Halsted scum "...but it really rounds out your mentality, so we've decided to leave it all in and share with our readers.

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    2. So basically the mindset it's ok for the businesses not to be held responsible? It's a multi pronged problems. Bars over crowd over server and thugs come to deal drugs and rob the drunks.

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    3. Is this walsh, the felon, or a 3rd grader who hasn't yet learned grammar?

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  9. I think all those involved owe us an explanation. This "no comment" business really undermines everyone's credibility. Explain yourself Walsh and your various employers need to comment as well so we get the full picture. The more I think about it there are two sides to this story and each has its own merit. No commenting really leaves an impression that something is wrong here.

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    1. Oh, you can be assured, something is very definitely wrong here!

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  10. Drink convo last night was rumors of a scarlet doorman cracked someone over the head with a night stick last year and Walsh security and CPD let it go. Some chatter that the victim didn't have access to civil lawyers other that doormen can't be armed in that manner. Basically, another assault covered up to not risk losing a lucrative contract and to help out. Definitely smoke and fire here.

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  11. If this back scratching and the resulting decline in safety and livability irritates you, don't just comment here or get propaganda at the CAPS and neighborhood meetings. Let people hear your voice especially outside of the neighborhoods dysfunction.

    Outside of Boystown, the Chicago office of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection can be reached at (312) 744-6060

    If your concerns are specifics to the bars and the overcrowding, noise, drugs or violence email ILCC@Illinois.gov or call (312) 814-2206.

    You can try to pressure the business alliance to respond at info@northalsted.com or by calling (773) 883-0500. The Alliance's president is Ramesh Ariyanayakam of Kit Kat. He can be reached at 773.525.1111 or email contact@kitkatchicago.com.

    The only way the declining situation gets fixed is if we stop depending on the Alliance, CPD, Walsh Security or the bar and other business owners. We have seen what that gets us!

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