Back of the Yards residents want community resources, not just more cops

A plan to bring in Cook County Sheriff's police to help patrol the Back of the Yards neighborhood is coming under fire.

Some residents are concerned that the man who proposed it, 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez, is trying to police away a problem that’s much bigger than gangs and violence.

“I think what we don’t like is being told that this what’s going to happen, without some type of community participation,” said community activist Linda Coronado, who gathered outside the Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School with several youth related groups to call for more than just police.

However, residents concede there is a violence problem.

“We have shootings every day, any time of the day. It doesn't matter if it's the morning, noon or night,” said Veronica Lopez.

And when it comes to seeing more done to combat crime, it's a shared concern by just about anyone you talk to in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

But the recent plan proposed by Alderman Lopez bristled some in his district, and on Monday night, they made that loud and clear.

“Do it from the many strengths of our community, not through some myopic idea that simply bringing in more police is going to solve the problem,” said community activist Marco Lopez.

But the alderman’s proposal is not something new in Chicago. The sheriff’s police have been using their target teams focusing on guns, or gang or vice to corral criminals for years. And since the summer of 2014, they have worked with Chicago Police on the city’s West Side to help curtail violence.

“Anyone who tries to get assistance for the Chicago Police Department, to do their job through resources is doing the right thing. I don’t know how you can argue with that,” said Craig Chico, President of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council.

Many people in the this small neighborhood on the city's Southwest Side don't argue with the idea, and they welcome it.

“I mean it’s been a big issue lately around here, the crime, especially with the drugs and the gangs and all that. Gun violence, everything, so yea, I encourage him to do it,” said resident Philip Rega.

Even organizers of this effort concede they are not anti-police by any means.

“So we’re not saying we don’t want police here, we need police, but we want them in relationship with our community,” said Marco Lopez.

And they want more than just police resources, because they are concerned it's only a band-aid for their bigger needs.

“So it’s actually not a solution, the solution is everybody work together, bring more resources into the community, a youth center that we don’t have, counseling for our young people,” said Veronica Lopez.

Alderman Lopez did not return calls for a comment, but Craig Chico said he never thought the plan was to simply bring in more police patrols. Chico said he also believes curbing violence will take a comprehensive approach.