May 27, 2010

Mayor Daley Announces Forward-Looking Curfew Program To Protect Kids Most At Risk From Violence

Offers Progress Report on Programs Started Last Year That "Broke New Ground" to Protect Children
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Richard M. Daley today announced a pilot program that will process violators of the City’s curfew for young people in park district facilities instead of police stations and provide them and their families with information that can connect them with mentors, support services and positive alternatives to hanging out in the streets.
The pilot program will operate from May 29 until the end of October in park district buildings located in three police districts where young people have been more likely to be victims of violence: Harris Park (3rd District), 6200 S. Drexel Blvd.; Ogden Park (7th), 6500 S. Racine Av. and Piotrowsky Park (10th), 4247 W. 31st St.
“Police will continue to be aggressive in their enforcement of Chicago's curfew, but the pilot program this summer has a broader goal – it’s designed to get our young people on the right track in life,” Daley said in a news conference held at Ogden Park.
“To me this is the kind of forward looking thinking we need to embrace in every area of government. We need to conduct pilot programs, be creative and even bold in our thinking and approaches,” he said.
Daley said that warm weather and the end of school classes means that young people can more easily be the victims of the violence. Research shows that young children are most susceptible to violence during the overnight hours when the city's curfew is in effect -- from 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday for young people under 17.
“I want to again remind every parent that it is their responsibility to make sure that their child is not out and on the streets during curfew hours.
I know it can be tough for them to do, but we're talking about the safety of our children,” the Mayor said.
The pilot program announced today will work this way:
Beginning May 29 on then on Friday and Saturday nights, instead of taking curfew violators to police stations to be picked up by their parents, officers will take them to park district facilities where they will be given information that can connect them with community organizations, support services and positive alternative activities.
Daley said the goal of the pilot program is to increase access to information that can help keep young people on the right path.
Three officers from the Police department’s Preventive Programs and Neighborhood Relations Division will be assigned to each Park District facility and will be responsible for talking with parents and making them aware of community-based organizations that can provide support.
 “The park district building will be an easier place for young people to wait than a police station and an easier place for us to communicate with the parents who come to pick up their children,” the Mayor said.
‘Common sense says that when you can connect students with mentors and families with support services and information about positive activities for young people, then those young people have a better chance of avoiding violence or even joining a gang,” he said.
Daley also provided an update on a series of steps he announced last fall that broke new ground in the City’s efforts to protect its young people.
“Today I’m happy to say that through stronger collaboration among City departments, sister agencies and the community, we have made very good progress with them,” he said.
Daley cited these examples:

  • Since last fall, 204 Chicago Public Schools students most at-risk of becoming involved with violence have been assigned mentors and are receiving social services. Fifty have been given paying jobs.   CPS has issued a Request for Proposal to serve an additional 1200 students.  
  • CPS gas begun creating “cultures of calm” at 45 public schools that house the greatest number of at-risk students by funding improvements to building safety, new truancy prevention efforts and new classroom curriculums that focus on social and emotional learning.  
  • Through a grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the City is purchasing and installing 90 safety cameras near 40 high risk schools.   
  • Police, school principals, parents and community members have been working together over the past several months to identify safe passage routes to and from the 13 most high-risk high schools. This summer, community members will be hired and trained as safe passage staff.  
  • Last fall, the Police Department deployed officers more strategically around at-risk schools and on the CTA, and began a new “Safe Student” initiative that deploys 44 additional officers to high priority schools at dismissal time – strategies that are still in place today.  
  • CAPS has begun the new “eyes and ears” of the community campaign to develop new block clubs and to work with existing block clubs to train volunteers for community patrol activities. Since last fall, 36 new block clubs have been formed (in addition to 89 existing clubs) and 1400 community volunteers have been trained.  
  • The City has expanded last summer’s successful Englewood anti-violence initiative to three more police districts. This involves law enforcement and the community meeting twice a month to strategize about issues in the district.
    To date, several new initiatives have resulted, including launching a new foot patrol in the 11th District and generating a list of illegal social clubs and then targeting those locations.  
  • And, in collaboration with the County, a juvenile gun court pilot program has been implemented in which youth offenders and their parents are connected with social services and community service is offered as an alternative to traditional penalties. Since September, 140 young people have participated.

"This is a very complex problem and I know that going forward, there will be even more to do. Fighting youth violence is a challenge in every neighborhood across America," Daley said.
But, it is also a Chicago challenge, and the steps we have laid out today won't work unless each of us accepts our responsibility to make our children safer,” he said.