Crime Reduction Focus Group Charter


11/19/2016; revised 3/10/2017

As the Central Business District grows in population and visitation, more people express concern for personal and environmental safety. Increasing incidents of crime and accidents have enhanced this concern.

We have learned that government and safety forces cannot do everything we need and  we accept responsibility for our personal safety and that of our neighbors. We believe that our collective community voice, in partnership with city agencies and elected officials, can have a positive impact when advocating for the quality of life expected in a vibrant and engaged community.

We do not accept that a decrease in safety and quality of environment are the cost of urban living. We believe that a grassroots effort, starting with individuals taking leadership in their residence buildings is the first step. We believe that when residents are engaged, they can empower their boards and managements to become partners in a neighborhood-wide safety advocacy network.

Purpose or Reason for Crime Reduction Program:
To ensure that there is a comprehensive review of issues concerning Safety and Security in Streeterville and that there is a strategic and sustainable plan to reduce crime.

Key Stakeholders:
Residents, condo boards and management companies, businesses and visitors to Streeterville and police.

Goals of the Project:

  • Reduce crime in Streeterville.
  • Improve the safety and security of residents, business and visitors in Streeterville.
  • Develop a realistic and sustainable crime prevention program which engages residents, management and managers with safety and security personnel.
  • Develop an effective real-time safety communication network.
  • Develop an informative and compelling education program to sustain resident engagement and to educate new residents and visitors.
  • Assure installation and maintenance of infrastructure which enhances safety and security.
  • Work with safety forces to enhance law enforcement and judicial justice regarding acts of crime.

What We Know About Crime:

  • CLEARMAP is the city crime database but analyzing it is overwhelming.
  • An SNA team member does a monthly count of crime incidents in Streeterville.
  • 62% of people feel safe.
  • 61% would value a real-time alert system.
  • 80% would value an increased police presence.
  • Statistics are that only 50-75% of crimes don’t get reported?

Using CLEARMAP statistics and resident surveys we have decided to focus on four types of crime:

  1. Larceny/Theft – half of thefts are retail and half are in the general community
  2. Assault and Battery
  3. Aggressive Panhandlers
  4. Motor Vehicle Theft


A. Why is crime a problem, who cares?

  • Crime negatively affects home values.
  • Lower home values reduce city income tax base.
  • Crime drives up insurance costs.
  • Retail theft adds to the cost of goods we buy.
  • Crime in the neighborhood negatively affects rental desirability and rents.
  • Crime will negatively impact tourism and cost the city revenue.
  • Crime will negatively affect business investment.
  • Crime damages residents’ sense of pride and thus investment.

B. Why is there so much crime?

We will not address the pathology of crime and socio economic reasons. We will focus  on the cause of crime in Streeterville where we believe that we can have an impact.

The intent is to define the problem and drill down to what we think are the root causes of crime. We will try to identify the root causes in a way the leads to developing focused measurable solutions for the next step of the process.

Issues developed from Analysis Focus Group

A. Issue Statement 1: Streeterville is an Attractive Target:

  • Streeterville is a very well-to-do community with expensive residences and high-end businesses, therefore an attractive target.
  • There are a lot of visitors, tourists and day workers (70,000/day per 2010 census),
  • The sheer number of visitors increases the number of targets and makes it easier to pick out soft targets.
  • Crowed streets and stores make it easier to go undetected.
  • So many people walk with cellphones and are not aware of surroundings. Thieves look for victims who are distracted.
  • Many tourists are from small towns where they are not exposed to high crime. (leave home and car unlocked, leave things in parked car)
  • Many visitors are here on Holiday and are trying to relax and forget about the stress of daily life, so they are not thinking about crime.
  • Ease of access makes the community an easy target. Good bus, train and highway access makes it easy to get in and out quickly.
  • Easy thefts lead to larger thefts like auto. (broken windows theory)
  • As the saying goes “I rob banks because that is where the money is.”

Target Solution Question: How do we “Harden the Target”? (cameras, signage, security patrol, neighborhood walk, etc.)

B. Issue Statement 2: People Lack Education about Crime

  • People (residents and visitors) are not aware of the amount of crime.
  • People are not aware of the types of crime.
  • Even if aware, people don’t warn others about the risk. (open purse in grocery, phone on table in restaurant, leaving valuables on table, leaving valuables in car)
  • Why do people think crime is caused by outsiders? (arrest statistics?)
  • How do thieves pick their target? (put your shopping bag on ground to take a picture)

Education Solution Question: How do we educate residents and visitors about the issue?

C. Issue Statement 3: 50-75% of Crimes Do Not Get Reported.

  • Even when aware, people don’t report. (flyer boys, shoe shine guys, camera theft, phone thefts)
  • Many think 911 response is slow to nonexistent so they don’t report. (statistics?)
  • Many don’t know that they can ask to talk to the officer and few stay around long enough to wait for an officer.
  • Many people feel that they do not want their names on a report.
  • Most people do not know how the reporting process works.
  • Many people will not want to invest the time to follow a suspect through the court system and if most victims are visitors, they simply won’t be in town.
  • Many feel that businesses do not want to invest employee time in prosecution.
  • Many think that the crimes we see are too small to justify the security and police action needed to be a deterrent.
  • Many think that punishment is so trivial that it is not a deterrent so why bother.
  • Many think legislation and courts are not addressing small crime because they are focused on drugs and gun violence.
  • There are few deterrents to crime, if 50-75% of crimes do not get reported, X% of reported result in an arrest, Y% go to court and Z% go to jail, criminals believe it is a low risk, high return way to make a living.
  • People don’t report aggressive panhandlers because they don’t know the definition or that it is illegal.
  • Tourists think that they are helping panhandlers even if some are doing it just to earn a living. (statistics?)

Reporting Solution Question: How do we get more people to report?

D. Issue Statement 4: People Are Not Engaged in Crime Prevention

  • People often think “Someone else will take care of it.”
  • People think, “I pay my building manager, police and elected officials to take care of it.”
  • Some people just don’t care, they believe that crime is a price you pay to live in the city.
  • Some people have become hardened, numb to crime.
  • Our culture does not encourage us to take responsibility.
  • Our culture does not encourage us to get involved. (pick up trash in your suburban lawn but not in the entrance to your building)
  • It will happen to other people, not me, so I don’t need to worry.
  • People speak up and get involved when there is an issue, then go away after speaking out.
  • Renters are more transient and have a short-term horizon, so don’t care as much as owner residents.
  • Many renters in Streeterville are medical students or interns who work very long hours and simply don’t have time to get involved.
  • A significant number of owners do not live in the community. (%?)

Engagement Solution Question: How do we get more people engaged in solutions, not just problem identification?

E. Issue Statement 5: We Need to Get Businesses Engaged with Residents.

  • Some believe that stores do not want the negative image of extra security.
  • Some believe that stores see the value of loss to be less than the cost of security.
  • Some believe that stores see the losses as “shrink”, a cost of doing business.
  • Some believe that restaurants are not proactive in telling customers

Business Engagement Question: How do we get businesses engaged with residents in crime reduction?

F. Issue Statement 6: 80% of Residents Surveyed Would Like Greater Community/Police Interaction.

  • CAPS meetings are too infrequent. If only six meetings a year, with heavy work and travel schedules, the number of residents who are interested is reduced to a small percent who can attend.
  • Meeting locations outside of the community that take an hour to reach are a strong deterrent.
  • Separating Beats 1833 and 1834 dilutes our effort to work as a community.
  • People won’t go to the meeting if they don’t know about it or what to expect or if they don’t see a tangible result. Why invest time?
  • There is insufficient outreach to the community about the meeting content, date and time. What is the reach of the aldermen’s newsletters and community organization newsletters? Some have posted the wrong date and time.
  • Residents would like police officers to visit businesses and residential lobbies like they used to.
  • Residents would like police officers to walk the neighborhood like they used to.
  • Residents are not aware of networking between CPD, security companies, Northwestern University Police, Northwestern Medicine.
  • Why not focus on high crime corridors, Chicago, Illinois?

Community/Police Interaction Question: How do we increase community/police interaction?

G. Issue Statement 7: 61% of residents would value a real-time crime alert system.

  • People want real time alerts about crime but none exist.
  • Police alerts are sometimes weeks after the fact.
  • There does not appear to be any pattern identification to warn people quickly of a crime pattern. (e.g., 2015 carjackings)
  • Information is not shared between residential buildings or residents. Don’t know if hotels and businesses have any network.
  • We do not have a good way to share information and to share it quickly. We are not sure what technology is available. (NextDoor, River North Residents Association)
  • No one in the community or government has taken leadership to install a system.
  • Concern for image, keep it quiet, don’t want Chiraq.
  • News media not reporting crime in Streeterville.
  • People become numb so reporting needs to be productive.
  • What can we learn from other communities. (best practices?)

Crime alert question: How do we develop an effective real time crime alert system?

H. Useful Information Before Solution Brainstorming.

  • Why do people think crime is caused by outsiders? (What are arrest statistics?)
  • What % of victims are from outside, this might support the notion that thieves target tourists.
  • Why are CAPS meetings so infrequent?
  • What is the reason for removing meeting sites from the neighborhood?
  • What is the reason for separating Streeterville Police Beats 1833 and 1834?
  • What can we learn from other communities about crime prevention programs and best practices?
  • What percent of owners do not live in Streeterville?

I. Next Steps: “Design Strategies” (solutions)

  • Meet again in two to three weeks to speed up the process.
  • Refine presentation content.
  • Draft outline.
  • For the solution phase, we should consider a community event to educate, brainstorm solutions, get buy-in and engagement.
  • Consider how to engage business community, Northwestern University, Northwestern Medicine and our two aldermen.
  • Secure meeting facility.
  • Solicit contributors/speakers.
  • Advertise.
  • Form work groups to develop implementation.
  • Meet regularly to manage and measure and report.

J. Vision to Use This Process for Other Quality of Life Issues

  • Traffic
  • Sound Management
  • Broken Infrastructure
  • Homeless
  • Graffiti
  • Parks and Greening
  • Enhancements
  • Recycling

K. Join us at