12th district has a lot of spit

Violent crimes are down 25.1% this year in the Near West Side, according to a news release by the Chicago Police Department.

Since the Chicago Police Department rolled out the Community Alternative Policing Strategy program, (or) better know as CAPS, in 1993, crimes have decreased across the city.

The CAPS program’s motto, “Together We Can,” has been showing across the city and right into residents’ homes through communicating with the police department.

CAPS Sergeant Rebecca Arguelles attributes the decrease citywide to a more watchful and active community that works with the different police beats. “You see people out on the streets with their families meeting the community, meeting the officers, and keeping out a watchful eye,” Arguelles said.

“As people know their streets and know the people around their community, they know exactly when they see something out of place, and they know to call 911,” 12th district officer Frederick Collins said. “With the community we can help stop or even prevent a crime from happening.”

“Beat meetings also have tremendous success in keeping our neighborhood safe,” CAPS Officer Alex Errum said. “Whenever you get a committee of residents together, the crime decreases because people know what’s going on in the community, and how to keep their families safe.”

Although some CAPS meetings are not always greatly attended, the CAPS program has reported an increase in attendance, according to Errum.

Arguelles also pointed out that the 12th district officers are still very young and aggressive, “They have a lot of spit left in them,” Arguelles said.

According to the news release, from January to October 2010, eight murders, 23 criminal sexual assaults, 177 robberies, 76 aggravated assaults, 130 aggravated batteries, had occurred, totaling 414 violent crimes.

From January to October 2009, 12 murders, 29 criminal sexual assaults, 231 robberies, 114 aggravated assaults, 168 aggravated batteries, had occurred, totaling 554 violent crimes

The presence of police is also a big part of the CAPS program. Officers are assigned to a beat for a minimum of a year, and are encouraged to meet the residents, know their names, and even make friendships so residents can trust the police department.

Many officers even park their squad cars and walk the streets, just to meet the community, Collins said.

“There are police cars and officers on the streets all the time. I think a cop car drives down my street about once every five minutes,”12th district resident Chris Jones said. “I think it is important to keep a community safe to actually see a police presence.”

25th ward Alderman Daniel Solis’ office also works very closely with the 12th police district, administrative assistant Maya Solis at alderman’s office said.

“It’s a combination of community, our office and police involvement all working together,” Maya Solis said. “Residents call [the CAPS office] and do a good job of providing specifics of the crime.”

Crime prevention is a very big issue for Alderman Solis, who goes out about every two weeks and makes it a point to drive around with the Commander of the district and survey areas of concern, Maya Solis said.

“We want to make this area as safe as possible,” Maya Solis said.