EDITORIAL: The crime problem

Let’s be blunt and outspoken.

We have a crime problem.

The city has a gun problem and the spillover gives Hyde Park a crime problem.

The community has become a target. Where better to be sure of a reasonable wallet full, a cell phone and someone walking alone on an empty street.

The Chicago Police Department reported that there had been nine robberies where suspects drew handguns and demanded property in the month of October. 

We have been here before. Probably the worst time was the 1950s when the very viability of the community was threatened by crime. It was that era when the South East Chicago Commission (SECC) was created as a crime-fighting agency. It was then that the university security expanded from campus into a community-wide policing effort from which we now benefit.

There was a time when the whole community worked at it. The SECC developed, with the Chicago Police, crime-mapping programs that are still part of good police work. Also, community organizations made sure that caught perpetrators were followed through the court systems and victims turned up as witnesses. 

Time again to return to some of those programs? 

Maybe the SECC might return to its roots and devote some of their resources to the problem and perhaps it’s time to really involve the community again.

The Herald remembers Whistle Stop in those days when it was everywhere. Some community members are trying to give it a new start.

It was a program to empower Hyde Park residents to fight crime or violence by blowing a whistle to alert neighbors of a problem so that they can call the police. How does the WhistleStop program work? The WhistleStop procedure is simple:

– CALL (When you hear a whistle, call the police and report the location of the sound as best as you can)

– BLOW (Blow your own whistle and keep blowing) and

– GO (head for the sound and keep blowing to alert others to join in). Making a lot of noise and attracting attention will often scare away the danger, and helps direct police to the exact location of the trouble. 

What this does in many cases is bring in the police right away and it alerts the community to be on the lookout. In the recent spate of robberies, if you are the victim, what do you do, they took your cell phone. But when they leave with it blow the whistle and alert the surrounding community. Does it work? It was successful in many cases in the past. But it will only work if we are all involved and understand how it works and what the sound means.

To participate as an individual, you need only to get a whistle, read the rules enclosed in the WhistleStop package, and respond when needed. Carry your whistle with you, easily accessible, on your key chain and/or in your pocket.

Will this program interfere with police work? “While we are not affiliated with the WhistleStop program we encourage the community to get involved in anyway that they can,” said Kenton Rainey, Chief of the University of Chicago Police Department. “We want our community to be our partners and we encourage the community to take a proactive stance for public safety.” 

Whistles are currently available for purchase for $2 at the following locations: Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, Hyde Park Bank, Bank Financial, South East Chicago Commission, the Hyde Park Herald, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, Noteworthy Notes, Toys Et Cetera, Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, Freehling Pot & Pan Co., and the Silver Room. More sites will soon be available. For more information, go to the HPKCC website at hydepark.org or call 773-288-8343.