February 14, 2003

The thin maroon line

According to the South East Chicago Commission, crime in the Hyde Park and South Kenwood neighborhoods is down 14 percent since 1998. Much of the credit for this drop in crime is due to successful cooperation between University Police and the Chicago Police Department. The police have excelled in improving and maintaining the safety of the University and its environs for its denizens.

The recent expansion of the University Police's patrol area has also contributed to keeping crime down in South Kenwood. We at the Maroon commend the University Police for their efforts to keep crime down in surrounding areas. Many members of the University community live in nearby neighborhoods, and several University buildings are some distance from the main quads, so this expansion of patrols makes sense. But praise is offered not strictly for the efforts towards protecting students and faculty--the UCPD has bettered life in surrounding neighborhoods for all residents, not just academics. The University Police's cooperation with the Chicago Police Department and the expansion of its beat should increase, but within the bounds of its primary mission of protecting University property and the University community.

Furthermore, despite these uplifting statistics, residents should remain cautious: crimes are still being committed in the area, and they have decreased in number, but not necessarily in severity. More efforts can be made, however, that would make it more likely that the reduction in crime will continue. These include adding street lights to unlit areas and making the older, unlit security phones more visible. The area between 55th and53rd Streets on Kimbark Avenue is one area in particular that would benefit from better lighting. Residents must not abandon precautions such as walking in groups and avoiding poorly lit areas. Just the same, the recent downturn in crime is heartening, and the police departments that protect this area can wear their badges proudly.