Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tighter security puts Cole Park back in play

On a steamy afternoon, young men faced off at Cole Park's basketball court under several watchful eyes: a Park District security team, five Chicago police officers wandering by on patrol and a newly installed security camera perched atop the court.

Don Lampkin, with his graying stubble, also was there, bumping shoulders and driving the lane with boys and men decades younger.

When Thomas Wortham IV and other Chatham neighborhood leaders strategized in recent weeks about how to rid Cole Park of rising violence, they called on the city for more security. But they also knew they would need residents such as Lampkin, a Chatham retiree who is committed to his community and is willing to come out and play.

"I think for the most part they are all good kids," said Lampkin, fit at 60.
On the Sunday after Wortham's slaying — during an event to reclaim the park that was long-planned — a Park District official told Lyle that a security car would be assigned to Cole from 3:30 p.m. until the park closes.

The next day, the Police Department installed a camera high above the court.

A week later, a group of local young men — joined by Lampkin — played on the basketball court that was reopened after security was beefed up. The rims had been disabled following the shootings.

"I'm so glad they're doing this, because it was going to get to a serious point," said Darion Simmons, 22, a Southern Illinois University student who regularly plays at the park when he's home on summer break. "I'm here to play basketball."

That it took Wortham's death to get the security in place is not lost on many.

"People are sawing and climbing and putting up security and you say, 'Wow.' That is what it had to take," Lampkin said.
This is great news! As long as there is a visible presence of security and police around Cole Park or any other park where there may be issues hopefully people can come and go as safely as they please.

This is step one, but I hope that there are other things we can do to insure that we can lower the incidents of violence in our community.


  1. Its great to see a "feel good" story come out of our community for a change. I'm glad to see that residents can use the park again but we still need to discuss the future of Cole Park. The issues before the violence are still there and become more important with the recent violence. The main issues of (1) the Chicago Park District lack of commitment to Cole Park and (2) how do we as a community balance the needs of those who use the park and the needs of those who live in and around the park.

    I think if we want to honor Officer Wortham's legacy then we as a community will solve these issues and make Cole Park one of the premier parks in the city.

  2. I agree that the COMMUNITY is the key to reducing violence in the area. The Chicago Park District and Chicago Police Department can only do so much, we as community residents need to take back our streets. The people that are out here committing crimes are someone's brother,sister,son,daughter, grandson, granddaughter, niece, nephew, cousin, etc. and instead of protecting them and/or professing ignorance, we need to be involved in their lives and be on top of what they are doing and with whom. My parents knew my schedule and all of my friends, my neighbors had the authority to discipline me if necessary, times have changed and not for the better. Yes, we should work with the Park District, Police, Alderman, other elected officials, and community stakeholders to find a way to mentor our youth and help to stop this violence.


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