Aldermen Hopkins and Moreno continue to push for private security patrols funded by SSA #33 funds


Alderman Brian Hopkins and Proco "Joe" Moreno

A third meeting in a week and a half regarding private security patrols on the streets of [Special Service Area] SSA #33 in Wicker Park and Bucktown played out in the sweltering heat in St. Stanislaus Kostka School, 1255 N. Noble, on Fri., July 22.

Frustration and expressions of concern/fear about crime in the Chicago Police Department's (CPD) 14th Police District were center stage. 


Show of hands for those who are SSA taxpayers

Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward Alderman, who initiated the 5:30 p.m. meeting, stated that there were two parts for the evening. One was political and the other was to be policy from CPD's 14th District Commander Fabian Saldana.

The first was to be addressed by audience members answering the question of whether SSA #33 should allocate a sum of money to hire a private security firm or perform other security measures such as security cameras. The second was to be addressed by asking the Commander questions. 

Of the close to 100 attendees, most were not payers into the SSA, which covers the commercial streets of Milwaukee, Damen, Division, North, Ashland and Western. [Definition of SSAs

Three aldermen have part of their respective wards in the SSA district. 

SSA #33 Map


SSA #33 breakdown


Percentages by Ward for both the number of PIN holders and the Equalized Assessed Value

Both Hopkins and 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno, believe that 10% of the SSA's 2017 budget of anticipated $1.2 million should be spent on hiring private security firms to provide that service. Both have indicated that they may not sign off on the SSA's 2017 Budget unless they allocate the 10%. 


Aldermen Waguespack and Hopkins along with 1st Ward Chief of Staff Raymond Valadez participated in the Commission's July 20 meeting

Scott Waguespack, 32nd Ward Alderman, does not support the 10% figure. At the July 20 Commission Meeting, he explained that by the time a patrol would be in place, there will probably be a different situation. He cited several actions needed to be taken by city agencies, which would solve several of the problems. 

The Commissioners at a Special Budget meeting on July13 and at the July 20 meeting explained that while they do expend dollars on security, it does not appear in the Security line on the city's spreadsheet. In a good faith gesture, they moved $20,000 into a line item for safety programming at the July 20 meeting

As the aldermen offered no plan for security, the SSA agreed to  take a business approach to the issue. First they will determine the issues, identify possible solutions then determine and implement a plan.

Prior to the Friday night meeting and after the Commission meeting, Hopkins provided a Request for Proposal (RFP) that the SSA could use to obtain bids on hiring a firm. 

Meeting Participants
Hopkins and Moreno spoke about how they and their offices are constantly being called with concerns about safety. Speaking several times about 44th Ward Alderman Tunney's success with private security patrols in one of two SSAs in his ward, they also noted that he has been able to increase the number of officers in the 19th Police District. 


Brent Norsman

A letter from Waguespack, who was unable to attend the Friday meeting, was read by Brent Norsman, SSA Chair. Explaining his opposition to the 10% expenditure, he said, "Since 2008, when we started work on the WPB Master Plan, the efforts of the board on graffiti removal, trash pickup and customer attraction to Wicker Park Bucktown has made public spaces safer spaces. Increases to these budgets and cooperation with our office and the City of Chicago has been a welcome sight for everyone in Wicker Park Bucktown. The process for the updated plan that started this year has been inclusive and as inviting as the original plan, and we appreciate your work. I also appreciate the work of the SSA Clean & Green committee led by Mr. Janik. 

"We all ask for more officers, and more patrols, but the issue of Police Department budgets and manpower must be more fully addressed. And as we discussed at the meeting, we need to address some of the root causes of crime, including late night businesses that could do their job to assist in providing a safe environment for everyone in our community. Joint efforts between the SSA board, the Chamber businesses, the community groups, the Aldermen, and city officials in the Police Department and Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will help provide a safer community." 


Nick Kollias

Nick Kollias, Greater Southwest Development Corporation which is the administrative entity for both SSA #3 and SSA #59 on Chicago's southwest side, gave a detailed explanation about how both SSAs that they manage use private security patrols. 


Security guard from Reliance Security Services

One of two security guards who spoke multiple times was from Reliance Security Services. Aside from explaining what they do and why they are needed, he gave anecdotal statements about how well they did for other districts. 


Mitch Hutton, Pulaski Park, was the first speaker. Not on the commercial streets, he is for the 10% allocation.

Community Comments
The majority of those who spoke are not taxpayers into the SSA #33 fund and they are for the 10% allocation. 

Reasons given for supporting private security patrols were mainly focused on fear of being harmed on the neighborhood streets, having experienced foul play themselves or knowing someone who did. Others expressed fear about going to local businesses on the commercial streets. 

Though it was stated clearly that SSA funds may only be spent for security on the commercial streets, most residents seem to believe that they would be patrolling the residential streets. 

After the meeting when that information was given to Hopkins, he said that the police will be able to spend more time on the residential streets, knowing that there are guards on the commercial streets. 


Paul Dickman

The opposition statements by SSA tax payers included Paul Dickman who explained some statistics he put together for the police beats that relate to the SSA area. 

"In terms of 'Index Crimes,' the four 14th District beats that make up the SSA zone (1432, 33, 34, 24) are the four worst in the 14th district.  But I estimate that 30% of all that crime is stuff being stolen out of peoples cars. 

"Frankly, if we could just get people to not leave stuff in their cars, we could fix that ourselves. Perhaps an ad campaign that says, 'Lock your car, Take your stuff. I think I could get behind the SSA paying for that. 

"But violent crime is a separate problem Beat 1424 is #2 in the district for violent crime and during the graveyard shift, it's #1. In fact over 60% of Wicker Park's violent crime takes place between 12 and 6 a.m. 

"Beats 1424, 1434, 1433 are home to 46% of the entire districts midnight to 6 a.m. violent crime. If you roll in 1423 (East Humboldt) these four beats create 63% of all the 14th's violent crime during that time of the night and should be getting 63% of its resources. 


Gretchen Vermeulen

"If they already are and it is still not enough, then the aldermen should be advocating for more resources, not for private security." 

An area resident not on a commercial street, Gretchen Vermeulen, indicated that she is all for safety but posed questions about potential guards. "What are oversight and standards for those who are not law enforcement officers?...What is the allocation of police officers to this neighborhood when city services and different allocations of police officers are used for special events that generate revenue to go to private industry?...What is the liability of a security person doing wrong?" 

NOTE: Any proposed safety funding would not be available until 2017.


Commander Saldana

Police report
Commander Saldana explained that the eight officers who were the Wicker Park Detail are not gone but reassigned and that he changed the timing of the shift. 

One officer transferred to a different shift while seven of the eight are on the midnight watch under Lieutenant Joseph Giambrone, who formerly was the Detail's sergeant. Until September, two of the seven are on a special city-wide detail. 

Because of what is happening in the country toward police officers, Chicago police now work in pairs, as they are doing in other cities. This means there are no one-man cars or foot patrols. 

While the officer count remains the same, there are less cars on the street. 

"If I had more officers, I probably would put the entertainment team back up," said Saldana. 

The 2017 Budget is due Tues., July 26, unless the deadline is extended. The submission includes the $20,000 line item for safety programming. Neither Hopkins or Moreno have stated whether they will support it.

While Hopkins agreed to support the SSA's 2016 Amended Budget as did Moreno's office, neither support has been received.

A question that was not asked during the July 22 meeting, has been asked by several residents and Commissioners. What rights do non tax payers in the surrounding area have in determining how the SSA tax dollars are spent.




Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Insert images and media with <pp_img> or <pp_media>. See formatting options for syntax.

More information about formatting options