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Police beef up patrols for summer

Evanston aldermen have approved spending an extra $108,000 to beef up police patrols over the summer in neighborhoods that have experienced problems with unruly behavior by teenagers.

Police Chief Frank Kaminski says the department will continue assigning three patrol officers – two more than usual — on the 4 p.m. to midnight shift to the area around Brummel Park in the 8th Ward. Those additional patrols started early in May and are planned to continue at least through the end of June.

The department also plans to assign two youth outreach workers and a service desk officer who formerly worked as a community organizer to do community organizing in the Brummel Park area.

The department also plans to add an additional officer to the downtown detail throughout the summer on the 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift.

And the department plans to add two more officers on overtime to work an overnight shift at various locations around the city through the summer, a repeat of a program in place for the past several years.

The intense focus on Brummel Park raised some concerns among aldermen from other wards.

“I know you need to respond to situations, and I think it’s appropriate to highlight Brummel Park,” Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said at Monday’s Administration and Public Works Committee meeting, “but do we need each alderman to stand up on the table and scream to highlight other areas where historically there have been problems?”

Ald. Jean-Baptiste said areas like the intersection of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue, Fowler Street and Lake Avenue, Greenwood Street and Dodge, and the area from Madison Street to Cleveland Street along Dewey Avenue have all have had substantial problems in the past.

Deputy Police Chief Dennis Nilsson said the additional cars would not be assigned permanently to Brummel Park and will be directed wherever they’re needed.

“That includes some of the areas you mentioned, and other areas like the lakefront parks and beaches,” Chief Nilsson said.

“Through the early morning hours we repeatedly have to go back to get people out of the parks and off the rocks,” he added, “Where the aldermen tell us there are problems, that’s what some of those extra cars will be doing.”

Chief Nilsson said the police also expect to deploy extra officers for summer art festivals, block partiess and similar events.

Of Brummel Park, he said, “I’ve been down there three to four nights a week myself at all hours. Sometimes we’ve had 75 kids roaming around in groups of 10 to 15. We’ve been reaching out to the community and working with the Chicago Police Department, because some of the troublemakers are coming from their side of Howard Street. We’ve also been doing drug raids to clean up that area.”

As for the need for extra officers downtown, Chief Nilsson said, “On a summer night 36 years ago when I started on the force I was pretty much the only person down there. Now at 11 or 12 at night three are hundreds of people downtown.”

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