4th Ward Candidates Talk Cops, Public Safety At First Aldermanic Forum


THE GAP – Public safety was top priority for residents at the 4th Ward Aldermanic Forum Tuesday at Pershing Magnet School in Bronzeville.

Six candidates showed up at the event at the school, 3900 S. Pershing Road, where they answered questions from members of the public, with moderators from the 32nd Street Block Club Association adding a few.

Khari Humphries, Tracey Bey, Prentice ButlerHelen Dean, Eboni Lucas and Rep. Lamont Robinson are vying to replace Ald outgoing. Sophia King in the February 28 election. King is one of several candidates running against Mayor Lori Lightfoot next month.

After a few questions about softball, including a pop quiz on the number of pedestrian bridges in the ward that nearly all applicants have failed, the conversation turned to issues like crime, infrastructure, and economic development.

Residents have expressed concern about the lack of policing near lakefront access points in the ward. The neighbors complained for a long time loud music, rubbish and biker gangs speeding across the pedestrian bridge at all hours of the night during the summer. A dead end it is under construction near the 43rd street pedestrian bridge to ease traffic.

Most candidates said there should be more police presence in the area and that they would support a return to community policing, with officers living in the neighborhoods they serve. Programs that would use housing incentives to entice officers to relocate to under-resourced areas they have been introduced by city officials in the past with little success.

But some candidates, including Bey, have called for more investment in preventing and stopping violence. The 4th Ward native cited the work her organization, Ex-Cons for Community and Social Change, does in the area.

“We invested so much money showing up after the violence happened and not enough money to prevent it,” Bey said.

Humphries agreed, saying a safe neighborhood is “connected.”

“We need to have neighbors who work together and communicate with the alderman’s office,” Humphries said.

Butler touted the success of a public safety pilot program launched in October in partnership with Ex-Cons for Community and Social Change and Halo Security in which teams of unarmed security guards and violence prevention workers patrol hot spots within Grand Boulevard. You said collective efforts can keep neighborhoods safe.

Longtime Kenwood resident De’Avlin Olguin criticized the city’s handling of riots in 2020, saying the neighborhood had little to no police on hand as people trashed the neighborhood.

Dean said those issues need to be addressed “at a higher level within the police department.”

“The mayor and the police chief need to understand that we have to hold them accountable for allowing the police assigned to our precinct to carry out their duties,” Dean said.

Bey and Robinson said they would lean on community organizations to keep the peace if a similar situation were to arise again. They would also fight for responsibility once the smoke cleared.

“If the CPD pulls officers from our community, I will ask for all of you to support me to make sure it doesn’t happen again. You have to come with me to City Hall. I can’t be on the front line without the residents in this room,” Robinson said.

Lucas said communication between aldermen and the police department is key, saying whoever leads the department needs to make sure residents aren’t left in the dark.

“I remember getting a text message that night telling people who were downtown to walk south, and it turned into a complete frenzy in our neighborhood,” Lucas said. “There were no buses. I had to get into the car to take the elderly to safety.”

The next 4th Ward Aldermanic Forum is 6-8 p.m. Feb. 9 at 637 S. Dearborn St.

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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