A grant from the Illinois Attorney General’s office has allowed Cook County Sheriff’s deputies to patrol Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, and the program is yielding results, according to officials.
That grant of $276,000 was designated to help battle the growing issue of organized retail crime in the busy shopping corridor, according to Sheriff Tom Dart.
“It added a heightened presence, but also targeted where thefts were going on,” he said. “(We are getting data) on time of day, and where the crews are too.”
Dart says the program and extra patrols are working, with at least 100 arrests in recent months. Retail crime overall is down, according to Chicago police data.
“We have only been doing this for about six months, and we have seen a drop of about 20%, which is a lot,” Dart said.
The sheriff said the department is “thrilled” with the results, and praised Chicago police as critical partners in the endeavor.
Chicago police cars have become more common in the Mag Mile area in recent months, with lights flashing and officers conducting patrols on foot to help deter organized retail thefts.
“It’s good to see them on the corners and watching,” shopper Latrena Gibson told NBC Chicago.
Kimberly Bears, president of the Magnificent Mile Association, echoed those sentiments about the increased patrols.
“We have seen them out of the avenues, stopping in to talk to merchants and retailers, and bringing back an officer-friendly (approach),” Bears said.
Dart and other officials expressed hope that the program will continue into the future, but there’s no official word on whether it will continue.
“It cannot hurt to have more police presence, and we want to bring tourists back and make this a vibrant area,” shopper Bob Blythe said.
Source : 5 Chicago