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With poll Despite complaints from some neighborhood residents, Evanston officials are moving ahead with plans to set up a police outpost in the Dominick’s supermarket in the Evanston Plaza shopping center.

With poll Despite complaints from some neighborhood residents, Evanston officials are moving ahead with plans to set up a police outpost in the Dominick’s supermarket in the Evanston Plaza shopping center.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, John Bushnell, of 1805 Crain St., said having police in the store at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue would reinforce fears among visitors that it’s a high crime area.

The Rev. Blair Hall, of 1215 Dodge Ave., said problems with crime elsewhere in the neighborhood are much more severe than at Dominick’s. And she said the supermarket should pay for its own security.

Nancy Floy, who owns the Heartwood Center at 1818 Dempster St., said statistics don’t support claims that there’s a big crime problem in the neighborhood, but the outpost would make people think there is.

And Dickelle Fonda, of 1220 Darrow Ave., said the decision to open the outpost had been made without sufficient consultation with the community.

But Alderman Peter Braithwaite, whose 2nd Ward includes the shopping center, said police had conducted three community meetings about the outpost concept and that he’s planning another meeting at Perla Cafe, 1813 Dempster St., at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Braithwaite said he wants to focus on economic development in the community, “but it’s hard to have economic development in an area where you still have crime.”

He listed four shootings within a couple blocks of the shopping center over the past year that left three people dead and said “crime makes me afraid as well.”

“The outpost isn’t the only solution,” the alderman said, but it can be part of a solution that also includes things like more reading programs for kids, better lighting and more economic development.

Braithwaite also distributed a statement from Dominick’s officials saying the outpost would let officers respond more quickly to emergency situations in the community and that it wouldn’t change the store’s own security efforts.

The company statement said the firm is covering the cost of constructing the outpost and noted that the company set up a similar outpost in cooperation with Chicago police several years ago in its store at Clark and Howard in Rogers Park.

Police Chief Richard Eddington said theft of liquor by juveniles has been a major issue at the store. (Monday’s crime report included two more such thefts that occurred last Wednesday and Thursday.)

Eddington said successful thefts lead to adverse social consequences from alcohol abuse and unsuccessful ones leave the juveniles involved with criminal records.

“Having an officer periodically present in the store will be a major deterrence and will let officers interact in a non-crisis setting with people,” the chief added.

He said the Dominicks outpost would just be a desk and a phone and that officers on duty on the beat in the area would periodically stop by. “It’s not a situation that there will always be an officer there,” Eddington said.

No aldermen objected to the outpost proposal, and since it requires no additional spending by the city, it appeared the plan will move ahead without formal City Council action.

However, Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said Dominick’s own security “seems to be pretty meaningless.”

She said she often sees the store’s security employees “out on the sidewalk talking on their cell phones.” She suggested the store should be encouraged to hire off-duty police officers to beef up its security operation.

Top: Police Chief Richard Eddington, center, confers with Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, and neighborhood resident Dickelle Fonda outside the City Council Chambers after the police outpost discussion.

What do you think?


Supermarket police outpost: Is it a good idea?

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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8 Comments

  1. Great summary. I still agree

    Great summary. I still agree with most citizen comments that an officer's time is always best spent on the street where he or she can more quickly respond to real issues. As Rainey said, other businesses with this problem solved it without feeling the need to construct a police outpost.

    How does a police outpost where an officer may or may not be pigeonholed into a tiny room solve the shootings Ald. Braithwaite mentions?

    Doesn't an officer already have a desk (a car) and a phone (a radio) to work with? Hello?

    Can't the Dominicks security staff watch cameras of the liquor area to make sure juveniles aren't going in there at all? Too bad it's not as pigeonholed as some other stores. The RP Dominicks has a sort of "booze nook" that appears to all intents to be totally normal but now that I think about it, I can see how it is designed in such a way that you don't "accidentally" wander in there while doing other shopping.

  2. What do the police think?

    I keep reading about what city council the community members think about this outpost- but what do the police think?  

     Do they think this outpost is a worthwhile idea? 

  3. Part of a bigger problem

    I avoid that area as much as possible lately, it just isn't safe.  I don't shop at the Dominicks any more either…I am not sure if having the outpost there will change my mind…

  4. Police out post at Dominicks

    I am unclear how it is that having a police presence adds to fear. In other parts of the world were I have traveled a police presence is reassuring.  

    No one seems to complain when the Police Community Van is out and visible. This is just more permanent and in some ways less obvious. Folks with criminal intent will have no idea if someone is there or not, and maybe think twice about the activity they have in mind.

    I do agree that Dominick's security guards spend a lot of time standing around outside or down by radio shack talking on the phone and chatting with friends. Why aren't they hanging out by the liquor.  I do agree that Dominick's should probably not be selling liquor at all and if they are going to it should be in a more secure location, with more limited (perhaps even guarded) access. I do agree that Dominick's should beef up their own security.

    I also agree that we need a more obvious Police physical presence in the neighborhood. Where are they when school lets out? I have yet to see anyone get pulled over for blasting through the pedestrian cross walk at Crain, when there are pedestrians present (often part way across the street), When do they patrol the alleys so that Parties are contained before they become violent?   

    But that said I think donated space, that the city does not have to pay for to put an out post and police presence in out neighborhood is a good deal and a wise decision.

  5. How much does Dominick’s cost this community?

    First Dominicks stipulates that other businesses within Dempster plaza be only of the type that draws short term parking and bars other food stores.

    Now as a tax-payer I am asked to subsidize private security for a business?

  6. If the police think a more

    If the police think a more public presence at Dominick's would help decrease crime in the area, then they should do it.  If there are concerns about the area in general rather than at Dominick's in particular, perhaps an outpost in one of the empty storefronts would be a better idea.  More visible foot patrols could then be present at a number of locations, Dominick's included, as well as at a sort of junior police station in a storefront.

  7. What’s wrong with store security?

    I don't agree with putting the outpost in the store.  Geographically, I live closer to the Dominick's on Howard Street, but as a resident, I do shop at both.  The CAPS outpost seems rarely manned and is really offset from the Howard Street store.  I don't believe it serves as any deterrent to crime; I have seen their very visible security guard at the entrance regularly and I think he serves as more of a deterrent than anything else, I would suspect that folks think twice about shoplifting. 

    Putting an outpost, even just a desk and phone in the store sends a message that the store is somehow 'unsafe' and needs a police presence.  Even stores in the most crime ridden areas of Chicago don't have cops monitoring the store; I guess they have more important things to do.  Our police should also!

    How about a more obvious store security presence, like Howard Street has and possibly a reconfiguration of the liquor section (yes, I know they recently remodeled and actually 'opened up' the liquor area!), so that folks have to pass this guard to get out of the liquor area; something less foreboding would be a better solution.

    .. 

  8. I shop there regularly and think it’s a good idea.

    Police are always parked in the lot. I've assumed patrolling the area. Giving our family the opportunity to see them and speak with them, if needed, is reassuring. Seeing them out of their cars creates a better feeling of community for me. And the Dominicks is a hub for this area.

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