Mayor Richard M. Daley today announced a pilot program that will process violators of the City’s curfew for young people in park district facilities instead of police stations and provide them and their families with information that can connect them with mentors, support services and positive alternatives to hanging out in the streets.
The pilot program will operate from May 29 until the end of October in park district buildings located in three police districts where young people have been more likely to be victims of violence: Harris Park (3rd District), 6200 S. Drexel Blvd.; Ogden Park (7th), 6500 S. Racine Av. and Piotrowsky Park (10th), 4247 W. 31st St.
“Police will continue to be aggressive in their enforcement of Chicago's curfew, but the pilot program this summer has a broader goal – it’s designed to get our young people on the right track in life,” Daley said in a news conference held at Ogden Park.
“To me this is the kind of forward looking thinking we need to embrace in every area of government. We need to conduct pilot programs, be creative and even bold in our thinking and approaches,” he said.
Daley said that warm weather and the end of school classes means that young people can more easily be the victims of the violence. Research shows that young children are most susceptible to violence during the overnight hours when the city's curfew is in effect -- from 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday for young people under 17.
“I want to again remind every parent that it is their responsibility to make sure that their child is not out and on the streets during curfew hours.
I know it can be tough for them to do, but we're talking about the safety of our children,” the Mayor said.
The pilot program announced today will work this way:
Beginning May 29 on then on Friday and Saturday nights, instead of taking curfew violators to police stations to be picked up by their parents, officers will take them to park district facilities where they will be given information that can connect them with community organizations, support services and positive alternative activities.
Daley said the goal of the pilot program is to increase access to information that can help keep young people on the right path.
Three officers from the Police department’s Preventive Programs and Neighborhood Relations Division will be assigned to each Park District facility and will be responsible for talking with parents and making them aware of community-based organizations that can provide support.
“The park district building will be an easier place for young people to wait than a police station and an easier place for us to communicate with the parents who come to pick up their children,” the Mayor said.
‘Common sense says that when you can connect students with mentors and families with support services and information about positive activities for young people, then those young people have a better chance of avoiding violence or even joining a gang,” he said.
Daley also provided an update on a series of steps he announced last fall that broke new ground in the City’s efforts to protect its young people.
“Today I’m happy to say that through stronger collaboration among City departments, sister agencies and the community, we have made very good progress with them,” he said.
Daley cited these examples:
"This is a very complex problem and I know that going forward, there will be even more to do. Fighting youth violence is a challenge in every neighborhood across America," Daley said.
But, it is also a Chicago challenge, and the steps we have laid out today won't work unless each of us accepts our responsibility to make our children safer,” he said.