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Stop The Violence

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CHA Police

I recently interviewed Richard Smiley, the director of the CHA Police Department. Smiley expressed his concern for all CHA communities.

He said, “As we approach the 21st century, police enforcement will have to be different.”

He explained that 60 percent of crimes are drug related but that we will have to treat the problem as an illness. We must deal with the cause before we can initiate a cure.

Smiley said he is starting classes for residents who need GEDs and classes for children who need to learn how to keep the weight off. Smiley noted that overweight people suffer from depression and ridicule and the class to help them is called Overeaters Anonymous and is open to all residents. The children with eating disorders will need professional help and help developing their self-esteem to conquer some of their problems.

Smiley, a former resident of Altgeld Gardens, said locking people up is not always the answer. The CHA police want to serve and protect and make the quality of life better for our people.

Smiley mentioned that CHA Police recently had successfully raided the Lawndale complex just behind where I live. He was right. I have to go to Roosevelt Road to get a bus since the service has been cut back and I was always scared because the streets are full of young men standing outside on every corner. They aren’t there anymore and I breath easier as I go home at night.

Smiley explained how the lock down of many complexes will force the drugs out:

“The residents are our clients,” he said.

Smiley’s vision is to turn would-be law breakers into law enforcers.

Part of Smiley’s program is a partnership with Harold Washington College offering residents, police officers and CHA employees programs where they can earn certificates and degrees in addictions studies. The goal of the program is to produce CHA Police officers and CHA employees who are state-certified substance abuse counselors.

Residents who go through the course will become more marketable for employment. Police officers and employees who go through the course will increase their knowledge in criminal justice and the human sciences. Interested parties can contact the Applied Science Department at Harold Washington College (312) 553-6989.

Erasing Criminal Records

On Aug. 5, I went to the Fernwood United Methodist Church, 10057 S. Wallace St. Pastor the Rev. Al Sampson and his lawyers are promising to help with erasing criminal records. This effort is called Operation Clean Slate and is sponsored by the Million Man March-Metropolitan Area Planning Committee and the Chicago chapter of Men Against Destruction-Defending Against Drugs and Social-Disorder (MAD DADS) and can be reached at (773) 287-1960.

I interviewed lawyer Rose E. Joshua, who wanted to spread the word of this program throughout the city. If turnout is heavy enough, Joshua said they may take the idea to the state legislature and get more done for people who made silly mistakes in their youth. Those records often kill their chances for finding gainful employment.

Joshua wants people who have served their time and been clear of any criminal acts for a number of years to be able to just write no on the employment application.

CAPS March

Also on Aug. 5, 25 neighborhood marches for the Community Alternative Policing Strategies (CAPS) were held throughout the city. Mayor Richard M. Daley led the one in his neighborhood. These marches involve people taking to the streets to tell the gangs that they will call the police in the event a crime is committed. They also get to know the police in their neighborhoods one on one.

Danny Davis Meeting

On Aug. 12, I met U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7) at a meeting at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Davis said he will host meetings throughout the city.

Davis tried to address all the complaints made by the participants. There were questions on health care for children and for seniors. There was the usual concern of what is being done about the gangs. The meeting lasted for 3 hours and many other issues were discussed.

Also attending the meeting was Michael A. Robbins, director of the Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan (HELP). Robbins spoke for all of those who have lost a loved one through gun violence, such as myself.

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