Chicago neighborhood hires private security firm to tackle crime
CHICAGO - Fed up with crime, one Chicago neighborhood is enlisting the help of a private security firm to patrol their Northwest Side streets.
Armed security guards could start patrolling the Bucktown neighborhood as early as this week, but details of the program remain undisclosed.
This comes amid growing concern from residents, and an increase in carjackings and armed robberies across the city.
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The group that's spearheading the program hasn't confirmed whether or not it's launched yet, but when it does, a letter sent to some residents states that guards will keep an eye on both homes and businesses.
In the letter, the newly formed Bucktown Neighbors Association outlines a plan to hire P4 Security Solutions, a private security company based in Downers Grove, "to deter crime and act as the liaison between the neighborhood and the Chicago Police Department."
The unidentified group of neighbors has set out to hire an "armed guard" – who is described in the letter as an off-duty or recently retired police officer – to patrol the area in a marked security vehicle "for 8 to 10 hours a day." The coverage area includes Armitage to North and Winchester to Hermitage.
The program would aim to curb a rise in area violence, including carjackings, strong-armed robberies and muggings.
"I always say that any extra set of eyes in the neighborhood is important," said Alderman Scott Waguespack.
Exactly how the program will work has not been revealed by those leading the association, even to Alderman Scott Waguespack who said he has a list of unanswered questions.
"My biggest concern is what legal steps have you taken to ensure the city is not liable, but really, what are the logistical steps you are taking," Waguespack said. "Do they carry a gun or not, where are they patrolling, how are they patrolling, and that’s something that the police don’t know either so there needs to be a lot more interaction here."
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The minimum cost of these security services, according to the group’s original letter, is $190,000 per year. It is asking residents to sign up to pay an annual fee to cover those costs.
One resident said she is hopeful, but feels curbing the growing violence is going to be a tall task.
"I think it would be helpful but I also think it’s hard to have your eyes on every aspect of every block," said Jen Rose.
Area businesses have shied away from discussing the plan. FOX 32 Chicago reached out to 24 Bucktown businesses Tuesday – all of which declined to go on-camera to talk about the effort to hire private security guards. One business owner said too many of their shops have been targeted, and they worry it will happen again.
The Bucktown Neighbors Association, the Chicago Police Department, and P4 Security Solutions did not immediately return our request for comment.