police expands its patrols south of the Midway
University staff, faculty, and students migrate south of the Midway
into the Woodlawn area, the University police force is keeping
pace. At a cost of $300,000 per year, the U of C plans on adding
six officers to its roster of 115 to begin patrolling the area
from Stony Island to Evans Avenues (one block west of Cottage
Grove Avenue) and 61st to 64th Streets.
"Everyone seems to be in favor of it," says Rudolph
Nimocks, executive director of the University Police Department.
"It just needs to go through the City Council, and I can't
think of any reason why they wouldn't approve it too." If
the City Council gives the plan a thumbs up when it meets in late
August, the department will begin the patrols in October.
Although the University has been considering the extended coverage
for several years at the behest of local residents, it did not
formally announce its intentions until after the plan received
overwhelming support at a June 9 neighborhood meeting. The meeting,
organized by Alderman Arenda Troutman (whose district includes
the new patrol area), was attended by more than 200 members of
the Woodlawn community. Joining Troutman on the dais were Nimocks,
Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard, and Woodlawn community
leaders Bishop Arthur Brazier and the Rev. Leon Finney Jr.
Nimocks, a resident of Woodlawn since 1952, stressed to the audience
that the University practices "community-oriented policing,"
which includes nighttime escort service from CTA stops, house
monitoring for vacationing locals, and rapid response to calls-often
arriving on the scene within four minutes. "One of the first
and foremost reasons individuals choose communities is for the
quality of public safety," says Henry Webber, the University's
vice president for community and government affairs. "The
University police have been an important part of making Hyde Park
a very attractive neighborhood for many years, and we hope that
by extending the police to the Woodlawn community, it can have
the same benefits."
The expanded coverage comes on the heels of extensive media attention
to campus safety since last October when the Department of Education
introduced its Campus Security Statistics Web site (www.ope.ed.gov/security/),
a collection of 1997-1999 crime statistics-including burglary,
robbery, car theft, sexual assault, and others-from some 6,000
U.S. colleges and universities. The U of C fared well, noting
single-digit figures in almost all of the categories.
The University did not do so well, however, in a separate report
published by APBNews.com, a private citizens' Web site "devoted
to crime, justice and safety," that assessed crime risk in
neighborhoods near college campuses. When factoring in statistics
within a two-mile radius of campus, Chicago was rated the 29th
most dangerous of 1,497 four-year institutions measured. The report
was decried by schools like Columbia University, the University
of Southern California, and Chicago-all located in urban areas
but boasting low on-campus crime rates-for making a campus look
more dangerous than it is.
According to Webber, the report did not play a role in Chicago's
decision to expand its police force into Woodlawn. "We
did this to help contribute to the revitalization of Woodlawn.
The leadership of the Woodlawn community has the clear goal
of creating a mixed-income neighborhood with high standards.
We want to support that effort."-C.S.