Friday, August 26, 2011

Special Service Area funds used to help supplement police patrols?

Not an unheard of idea. In the 9th Ward which contains such neighborhoods as Rosemoor, Roseland, and Pullman, they did have private security patrolling the streets that way.

It's possible that this may come to Chatham in the near future:
Sixth Ward alderman Roderick Sawyer, elected this spring after promising to improve public safety, said the new redeployments won’t address all of his constituents’ concerns. “We do have more officers patrolling the area, which is always a good thing,” he said. “But they can't do it all themselves and we have to acknowledge that.”

So Sawyer says he’s researching the possibility of using special taxing districts to fund a private security force for the community. “We’d get security guards and off-duty cops to patrol, particularly in our residential areas,” Sawyer said. “That might help us crack down on these property issues we’ve been experiencing—the thefts of air conditioners, the lawn mowers stolen. I think we need to do something to combat that.”

The alderman is talking about special service areas, or SSAs—designated districts where property owners pay a little more in taxes for extra services like storefront facade improvements, extra trash pickup and street sweeping, and economic development.

Sawyer isn’t the first person to propose using SSA funds for security. In fact, the southwest side community of Marquette Park began paying $70 a month for private patrols way back in 1994. The policy has been controversial almost ever since. As one Marquette Park resident said in a 2002 story about it for the Reader: “We're paying for the Chicago police—so why are we paying for extra security?”

The issue came up again in 2009, when far south side aldermen Anthony Beale and John Pope wanted to give private security guards the authority to issue citations for parking, litter, and other small infractions. Then-Mayor Richard M. Daley and police superintendent Jody Weis—well aware they didn’t have the money to hire Chicago cops for the work—said they were open to the idea, but it was ripped by the police union and died soon after.
What do you think of this development?

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