Police plan: More officers on streets on Halloween

Volunteers at a de-escalation training at the LUV Institute. (Photo by Aaron Gettinger)

By AARON GETTINGER
Staff writer

Hyde Park will soon find out whether the plans put in place by its aldermen, the police and community groups will be sufficient to defuse any violence and mayhem that may occur on Halloween night in the neighborhood.

In preparation for the teenagers expected to come to the neighborhood Thursday night, Alds. Sophia King (4th) and Leslie Hairston (5th) have planned a Halloween block party at 5300 S. Lake Park Ave. from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Chicago hip-hop artist Korporate is headlining.

Earlier this month, King said that funding was an issue for the programming.

On Monday, Hairston said Chicago Public Schools personnel and police will be part of security and that attendees will be checked before coming into the event.

“There’s going to be games, food trucks, a basketball tournament. There’ll be stuff for the little kids — the face-painting and stuff like that — and there will be a movie in the movie theater,” Hairston said, referring to Harper Theater, 5238 S. Harper Ave., which the Herald could not reach for comment.

Cosette Wilburn, executive director of the Love, Unity & Values (LUV) Institute, 4659 S. Cottage Grove Ave., said that the ongoing Chicago Teachers Union strike has impacted the number of de-escalation volunteers the organization planned to teach for Halloween night.

Organizers had said that 100 volunteers would be on hand to defuse issues in Hyde Park, but only a handful of individuals attended de-escalation training on Monday at the LUV Institute. Subsequent 2-hour trainings were planned for Tuesday and Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Linda B. Roberts attended the Monday training, saying she planned to hand out treats on Halloween night, walk her dog and talk with neighbors.

“Hyde Park is a very diverse neighborhood, and we’re always looking to do things that will be useful to maintain the safety and welcoming nature of our neighborhood,” she said.

The youth-led anti-violence group Good Kids Mad City also has participated in planning for Halloween, but the Herald could not reach a representative for comment regarding their planned presence on the streets during the holiday before press time.

The CTA is staging additional buses along Routes 4 (Cottage Grove), 6 (Jackson Park Express) and 15 (Jeffrey Local) in anticipation of people coming to Hyde Park for the holiday.

Christina Angarola, the communications director for the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement, confirmed her office’s and the University of Chicago Police Department’s (UCPD) attendance at the aldermen’s planning meetings for Halloween held over the past months.

“We’ll be supporting the execution of the event by closing off Harper Court to make room for a variety of activities,” Angarola said in a statement. “We are optimistic that these planning efforts, led by Alds. King and Hairston and community stakeholders, will contribute to a positive experience for all involved.”

A UCPD officer said earlier this month that the force will be “all hands on deck” on Oct. 31.

The Chicago Police will also deploy additional officers to the area on Halloween “to help mitigate any disruptions or any disturbances in the area, potentially by youth,” said Sgt. Yolanda Walton with the 2nd District’s Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) office.

Walton did not say how many more officers would be deployed, and she declined to comment on any specific strategies the police plan to employ.

As of the Herald’s press time, 26 blocks have appointed organizers for the community’s “CollaBOOration” effort, when residents will be encouraged to keep their lights on and be present outside into the evening:

  • 5400 and 5500 block of South Hyde Park Boulevard
  • 5100, 5300 and 5400 blocks of South Harper Avenue
  • 5200 and 5400 blocks of South Blackstone Avenue
  • 4900, 5000, 5100, 5200, 5300 and 5400 blocks of South Dorchester Avenue
  • 5400 block of South Ridgewood Court
  • 5200, 5400 and 5500 blocks of South Kenwood Avenue
  • 5100 block of South Kimbark Avenue
  • 5100 and 5200 blocks of South Woodlawn Avenue
  • 4700 and 4900 blocks of South Drexel Boulevard
  • 1400 block of East 54th Street
  • 1400 block of East 54th Place

The Hyde Park Townhouse Corporation No. 16, between East Park Place, 1300 E. 55th St. and the 5500 South block of Kenwood Avenue, and the Evergreen Cooperative House on the 1300 block of East 52nd Street will also participate in CollaBOOration.

At Herald press time, the National Weather Service was calling for a cold, wet night on Halloween in Hyde Park, with rain followed by rain-and-snow mixed precipitation. The first freeze of the season was forecast for the holiday, with a low temperature of 31 degrees.

a.gettinger@hpherald.com