CAPS mtg addresses Manor robbery attempts; Police support ‘Whistle Alert Awareness Strategy’

By Mary Pendergast | Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The CAPS meeting held last Tuesday night, February 16, at Horner Park Field House, 2741 W. Montrose, Chicago, IL, was the first Beat 1724 meeting since?a January strong-arm robbery attempt in the CTA Francisco stop vicinity. Another woman was similarly attacked in Beat 1724 while walking to the Brown Line at the Sacramento entrance of the Francisco stop in December. That attack happened in daylight according to police.

Beat 1724 includes Ravenswood Manor south of Wilson Avenue.

Chicago Police Sgt. Kristin Barker led the meeting of about 25 residents, many of who were there? because of the two recent violent crimes.

Detectives are working on those cases according to the sergeant. In reply to a follow-up question, the sergeant said there is an increased police presence in the area both in squad cars and on foot.? Police are riding the El in plainclothes and in some cases dressing as bait for would-be criminals.? Detectives are still reviewing camera footage.

Sgt. Barker warned that criminals will often ?make? their victims on the train and then follow them after they exit. This is not unique to the Brown Line.

Tips to avoid being targeted include:

  • Carry yourself with confidence
  • Make eye contact
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Don?t use ear buds and cell phones

Sgt. Barker introduced Chris Braun, a neighbor who purchased and distributed storm whistles, and created a safety program called?Whistle Alert Awareness Strategy. He passed out more whistles at the meeting, courtesy of the?Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association. Braun created this organized effort in response to the recent attacks.? Braun’s goal is to encourage individual responsibility for personal and neighborhood safety.

The strategy uses the extremely loud whistles to scare off attackers and thereby alert neighbors.? Neighbors who hear the whistle should then whistle back to let the victim and attacker know that the neighborhood is acting together. This can be done anonymously if preferred but still gets the message across.

Braun added that calling 911 is imperative for assisting the victim and getting police there immediately. Also, neighbors giving eyewitness accounts provide the police with helpful information they can use for future leads and arrests, Braun noted.

Braun distributed a personal safety sheet he created. His additional safety tips include:

  • Ask a neighbor or friend to walk or jog with you
  • If chased or attacked, use the whistle or yell ?fire? to bring attention to yourself
  • Get into a visible location like the middle of the street ? not a neighbor?s doorway
  • If robbed, throw your purse or wallet away from you and run in the opposite direction

Sgt. Barker said the police love to see this kind of effort. It is a great example of a proactive citizen, and a community working with the police. They fully support Braun’s efforts. The sergeant pointed out the importance of having the whistle in hand and ready to use. She added not to be concerned if using the whistle on a suspected attacker turns out to be a false alarm.

Braun, who was invited to speak by John Eischen, the CAPS Coordinator, will be available at the March 24th Town Hall meeting held in lieu of a CAPS meeting that month. The event will take place at the Salvation Army Campus, 5040 N. Pulaski, Chicago, IL from 7pm to 9pm.

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