University Police plan to extend coverage farther north into Kenwood, according to Bob Richards, a spokesman for the South East Chicago Commission. UCPD officers will now patrol as far north as 39th Street, an expansion that has long been requested by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. The plan comes in the midst of a yearlong crime wave that finds police struggling to address a seven-year high in crime.
Fourth Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle has championed the police expansion for several years, pushing it through the city’s legal processes.
The expansion won unanimous approval from the Community Conference, according to both Preckwinkle and UCPD Director Rudolph Nimocks.
Nimocks said the 2001 extension of UCPD patrols to 63rd Street has helped Woodlawn residents feel safer, and Preckwinkle hopes the expanded coverage to North Kenwood “will improve the perception and reality of safety in that area.”
UCPD will add two or three police officers to its force of 130 in order to be able to cover the additional area.
At a recent beat meeting, Chicago Police Department Sergeant Patrick Eberlin, who covers the Hyde Park beat, attributed the crime increase to resident carelessness and community apathy.
He specifically identified weak security arrangements in residential buildings as a factor in the rise in crime.
“Some management companies, especially some of the smaller ones, don’t have a lot of experience with providing security against burglaries and break-ins,” he said.
Police have pushed for improvements, urging property managers and security personnel to review each building’s security.
Although police cannot provide statistics, they report that increased pressure on landlords has won widespread commitment to future improvements.
“So far everyone, except for one or two not-so-cooperative owners, has promised to make improvements,” Eberlin said.