In a suburb of Chicago, good old fashion whore-shaming strikes again. This strikes me as an incredible waste of tax payers’ money. The logic of publishing sex workers’ pictures to fight drug-related crime really just evades me. Am I just too stupid? I don’t get it! It seems residents are more furious that sex workers live next door to them and without that big red A on their chests, these residents had no idea.
Elgin residents up in arms over prostitution
They urge police to help crumbling neighborhood
By Amanda Marrazzo
Special to the Chicago Tribune
9:15 AM CDT, July 11, 2008
Worried that prostitutes are taking over their neighborhood, Elgin
residents offered a suggestion to city officials: Publish the names
and photographs of those convicted of the crime as well as their
“If I had children I would get out of this town,” said Cinda Bates of
the 300 block of West Chicago Street.
The epicenter of concern is about a four-block area on the near west
side of the city, where Victorian houses built more than a century ago
line the streets.
About 25 residents attended a City Council meeting this week, asking
police and other officials to do more to protect their crumbling
neighborhood from prostitution and drug dealers.
Chuck Keysor, president of the Near West Neighbors Association, has
lived on Jackson Street for 21 years. He said a neighbor recently
pointed out two prostitutes to him. They lived in an apartment two
doors down from his home.
“I was amazed to see these two women working right out in the middle
of West Chicago Street in broad daylight,” Keysor said.
He presented a list of possible solutions, including stepping up code
enforcement and going after landlords who allow prostitution.
Residents attributed some of the problems to the absence of a police
officer who lived near the neighborhood before his recent deployment
to Iraq as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves. The police
veteran participated in the Resident Officer Program of Elgin, or
ROPE, a community initiative that encourages officers to live in
city-owned houses in crime-prone neighborhoods.
Some who attended the meeting asked that another officer be assigned
to that live-in role.
Police Chief Lisa Womack acknowledged a possible lack of communication
between residents and the Police Department since the officer went to
Iraq. She encouraged residents to call 911 or the department’s
non-emergency number—847-289-2700—when they have concerns.
“It has to be a community effort,” Womack said.
The crime rate in the area has dropped 11 percent over last year, she
said. But she said the department is aware the neighborhood is a “hot
spot” and that officers have targeted prostitution and drug sales as
well as parole violations.
Five prostitution arrests were made in June. Since the beginning of
the year, 19 drug-related crimes were reported, Womack said. Many of
those crimes were cleared up after drug sweeps led to arrests at an
apartment complex in the 200 block of Locust Street, she said.
On July 21, the Police Department will host a community safety
gathering with similar events to follow.
“We are very aware of the concerns of the neighborhood,” Womack said.
Mayor Ed Schock said he is confident police and city officials can
deal with the situation. He said he was encouraged by the willingness
of residents to band together to keep their neighborhood safe.
“They are going to be our eyes and ears,” he said.
Mark Minter, property manager and a resident of an apartment complex
in the 300 block of North Bristol Street, described a nearby house as
a “drive through” for drug deals.
He said he regularly sees people smoking crack on front porches and
shaking small plastic bags of drugs outside car windows to lure
customers. He said prostitutes openly ply their trade in gangways and
taxicabs and behind buildings.
Minter, an Elgin resident since 1999, said he has kicked prostitutes
and drug dealers off his property in the middle of the night.
“We need help,” he said.
Chris Tsonis of the 300 block of West Chicago Street bought his circa
1890 Victorian house seven years ago. His garage has bullet holes from
a gang shooting and his car has been broken into six times, he said.
With tears in his eyes, Tsonis held up a picture of his 1-year-old son.
“I have to let my son grow up around hookers and drug dealers,” he
said. “How do I protect my son?”
Copyright (c) 2008, Chicago Tribune