Chicago alderwoman brings back 'WhistleSTOP' program to deter crime

Amid an uptick in robberies and carjackings on the North Side, a Chicago alderman is re-instituting the decades-old "WhistleStop Program."

Lincoln Park Alderman Michele Smith (D-43) is asking her constituents to buy whistles and blow them if they see certain crimes unfold.

"The idea is to let people know that they're being watched in the community, and being supported by the community and help take back our streets," said Smith.

In a bulletin sent out to her constituents this past week, Smith asked her constituents to arm themselves with whistles.

"Something that can be really loud. Whistles that can be used in sports, camping safety, are the kind of whistles that we recommend people get," she said.


In the bulletin, she writes, "if you find yourself in a suspicious situation or witness a crime, blow your whistle. If you hear a whistle, call the police, then move toward the source while blowing your own whistle."

But the bulletin does specify to not blow your whistle if you think doing so would put yourself in danger.

"We specifically advise people that if you feel in danger in any way, don't do it," she said. "We expressly direct people: if you are the victim of crime, cooperate. Do not resist. And certainly don't blow your whistle if someone has a gun pointed at your head."

Smith says the WhistleStop Program proved successful in the 1970s, before her ward was largely gentrified. She says her office has a limited supply of whistles at the ward office for residents wanting to take part.