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Rogers Park’s Beefed Up Police Tech Launches This Week

Katie Anthony | The Phoenix

Rogers Park is launching its smart policing technology program this week with the hope that it’ll help curb crime.

The launch of the police tech program in the Rogers Park neighborhood, the 24th Chicago Police Department (CPD) district, was announced by Alderman Joe Moore (49th) Feb. 4. Moore announced the initial changes in October 2018.

Coming to the neighborhood: more high-definition security cameras, mobile phones for cops equipped with crime analysis software, license plate readers in police vehicles and a high-tech support center stocked with screens that’ll feature crime data analysis software and extensive backgrounding tools.

The changes were fast-tracked after two unsolved back-to-back homicides shook the neighborhood in the early fall, Moore said. Police believe the same killer shot both victims, and the case has prompted the largest reward for a homicide in Chicago history.

“At my request, Mayor Emanuel and the Police Department moved up the timetable for the installation of the smart policing strategy in the 24th District,” Moore wrote in a statement posted to the Ward 49 website.

CPD chose to expand its smart policing program to the 24th District after it saw successful rollouts in the 7th, 11th and 12th districts on the West and Near West sides of the city, where CPD has reported reductions in violent crimes such as shootings, murders, carjackings and armed robberies.

Loyola calls Rogers Park its home, and its students haven’t been spared from being victims of such crimes. Armed robberies, batteries and shootings have all been reported by Loyola students in recent years.

And notably, a Northwestern University graduate student was shot and killed as the unintentional victim of a gang-related shooting in September. The reward for information related to solving that case was recently raised to $12,000.

For the security cameras, Moore said they will record in high-definition, and there will be more of them. The number of cameras capturing incidents around the neighborhood was a concern after scant footage of the suspect in those two Rogers Park homicides was found when police canvassed the areas’ cameras.

The support center will be located on in the 6400 block of Clark Street and will always be staffed with a uniformed District Intelligence Officer. Their job will be to watch the cameras — ones installed by the police department and others CPD’s been granted access to by private citizens and public agencies.

The cameras will only be focused on outdoor areas in the public way to protect privacy, Moore’s statement read.

The District Intelligence Officer will also answer calls and make decisions on where to send police with the hope of increasing police response times.

Additionally, a team from the University of Chicago Crime Lab will examine crime trends and deliver up-to-date information to the intelligence officer and to police on the streets.

Police patrolling the 24th District will now be issued mobile phones with access to that up-to-date crime data and historical trends so that they’re adjusting where they patrol in real-time and from day to day.

The license plate reader vehicles coming to the neighborhood will automatically run plates against a database of stolen and wanted cars to aid police in curbing carjackings and locating suspects.

It’s not all tech, though. Moore stressed in his statement that the city would also continue to invest in youth programs to keep at-risk kids off the street and out of trouble.

The tech will hopefully continue a decline in crime in Rogers Park, Moore said. Moore, citing CPD statistics, said crime in the 49th Ward was down 12.7 percent in 2018 compared with 2017. January 2019, additionally, had a 43.4 percent drop in crime compared with January 2018, Moore said.

CPD public information officer Howard Ludwig said the 24th District experienced a three percent drop in crime from 2017 to 2018.

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