FOX 32 NEWS - Residents and businesses in East Lakeview will soon be getting some help to combat crime.
Starting next week, private security guards will be on patrol, supplementing the presence of Chicago police. It’s a growing strategy in neighborhoods where officers are being diverted to more violent parts of the city.
Maureen Martino heads the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, which starting next week will begin deploying private security officers to supplement Chicago police.
By May, as many as a dozen security officers at a time will be patrolling the streets of East Lakeview at night and about half as many during the day. They’ll be wearing black reflector vests and some will carry guns.
"You'll be able to notice on the street they're clearly not police officers, but they're security personnel. Now a lot of them are off duty police officers and some of them are armed and some of them are unarmed,” Martino said.
It’s a response to a perception by some residents and businesses that there is more crime happening in Lakeview and Wrigleyville because the city is re-deploying police officers from local districts to neighborhoods where high numbers of shootings are making headlines.
Earlier this week, a woman was robbed and sexually assaulted in the 1200 block of West Barry, an affluent residential area.
"We're not getting what we need for the magnitude of the crime that's spiking up in the city of Chicago,” Martino said.
Now the cost of those private security officers will be picked up by taxpayers through the local special service area. That's an extremely local special tax district encompassing residents and businesses in East Lakeview.
A $125,000 contract has been awarded to a security company owned by a former Chicago police commander who worked in the area.
Residents that FOX 32 talked to endorse the plan.
"I feel very safe here. But you can never be too safe so I'm for it, absolutely,” one woman said.
"I also don't see a lot of patrol cars around here either anymore. And I don't think the area by Belmont and the Red Line is very safe either. So I would feel safer with a little bit more security around here,” a man said.
And this year the cubs will also be hiring two security officers to patrol the blocks near Wrigley Field.