Chicago aldermen want to deploy private security to reduce crime

“After a spike in crime, two Chicago aldermen want to bring private security services to the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods to supplement what police are already doing.
Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) proposed a plan to use the taxpayer surplus Special Service Area, or SSA, funds for guards to help Chicago police patrol the Northwest Side communities. On Friday, the aldermen and 14th District Police Commander Fabian Saldana brought together dozens of residents to discuss the proposal.
“It’s no different than snow removal, beautification or the other things that SSA does. I believe security is important, and it’s important to augment it, not replace it,” Moreno said.
Since May, 1700 crimes from battery to arson were reported in the area, but only 200 arrests have been made, according to the aldermen.
“We’re trying to get a handle on that with this proposal,” Hopkins said.
The proposed budget amendment would use $100,000 of the $1.2 million SSA budget, allowing for the hiring of off-duty and retired police officers for late-night patrols.
Some residents expressed support, saying it would be “egregious” to not do anything about the crime.
“It’s a really good idea, but we need to think about standards and oversight,” said community resident Gretchen Vermuelen.
Others were not enthusiastic about the idea.
“Police service is a fundamental service that the city should be providing on its own. We should not be providing that,” said Steven Lipe.
The SSA district overlaps three wards, with two of the three aldermen backing the private security proposal. Ald. Hopkins said the SSA funding will expire if not spent by the end of the year.
“If we’re not able to come to an agreement or some compromise, a willingness to work together, then really the entire $1.2 million is in jeopardy,” said Kimberly Bares of the Wicker Park/Bucktown Chamber of Commerce.
The aldermen said they hope to work out a solution within the next week.”

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Off-duty security officer springs into action

“An off-duty security officer driving down a road sprang into action after being flagged down by a woman reporting a kidnapping in progress.
After getting off the light rail, the night turned to chaos after she says a man tried to grab her 7-year-old daughter.
Boone and her husband were able to keep the man away from their daughter, but they needed help and that’s when she flagged down a passing security guard.
“A woman who saw my patrol vehicle was jumping up and down and waving at me. I drove up and asked her if she needed help and she said ‘Yes, someone tried to steal my kid,’” said Security officer Casey Smith.
Smith says he was off-duty but that he wanted to help the Boones.
He confronted the man and tried to him down and keep him in the area until police could arrived but things turned violent, and the man tried to fight him. So Smith, who says he weighs at least 300 pounds, got him on the ground and held him until help got there.
“I just rolled the person over and then sat on them. Literally just jumped on his back and sat there holding his hands behind him until the police arrived,” said Smith.
Officers told him the guy may have gotten away if he hadn’t intervened.
“I would want someone to do the same thing for me. This day and age everything is so volatile. People are getting taken from different states and everything else and it’s just really hard not to help people,” said Smith.
The suspect now faces a charge of misdemeanor assault for pushing the husband. But detectives told Boone he’s not facing attempted kidnapping charges because he didn’t touch their daughter.
The man is not in jail. Phoenix police were not able to provide an update on the case Saturday night.

A local Phoenix news station has reported that the man has been arrested 54 times, mostly for public intoxication, drinking in public and assault.”

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Hillcrest to crack down on unruly homeless

SAN DIEGO — Panhandlers have asked for change from diners in restaurants.

A furniture store owner has found homeless people napping in his showroom and sleeping on his doorstep.

Another shop owner has to constantly clean human waste from the alley behind his business.

“I think it would be safe to say that the business community has lost patience,” Hillcrest Business Association Director Ben Nicholls said.

The association has hired a new security firm that will begin cracking down on troublesome homeless people in the neighborhood beginning Monday.

Santee-based security company City Wide Protection Services will provide day and night patrols around Hillcrest, focusing on people who are disruptive or seen sleeping on private property.

Nicholls acknowledges that the stepped-up effort is not an ideal solution because it could pit neighborhood against neighborhood, causing homeless people to move but without creating a long-term solution,

“It’s frustrating, because we are all just pushing the problem out,” he said.

The move comes at a time when some business owners in Hillcrest say they’ve seen a migration of homeless people from downtown following efforts by the city to clean up that area with weekly sweeps of sidewalk encampments.

“The solution for East Village and downtown is, ‘Let’s push them out,’” Nicholls said. “Well, they did, and now the businesses here are saying, ‘Enough.’”

Nicholls said the new security contract is in response to the requests from businesses owners to deal with some homeless people who have become aggressive.

“I have restaurants who literally have to throw people out because there are homeless people panhandling inside,” he said.

Brian Lovering, owner of Adam and Even on University Avenue, said he’s seen Hillcrest change because of homeless people in the past year and a half.

“Lots of vandalism has been happening,” he said. “Lots of small issues that add up.”

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Nashville pastor, associate accused of getting grant money for non-existent program

“A Nashville area pastor and his associate have been indicted after TBI agents said they secured state grant money for an addiction treatment program that didn’t exist.
Clinton Lewis, 48, of Hermitage and Aundre Trice, 38, of Antioch are charged with four counts of theft each, according to a news release from TBI.
Agents said between 2011 and 2015, Lewis, a Mt. Hopewell Baptist Church pastor since 2002, and Trice received more than $60,000 in grant money from the Tennessee Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for an addiction recovery program.
TBI said the clients listed in the program never received any treatment. Some clients listed were even in jail, prison or had died. The counselors listed in the program weren’t aware it was in operation, agents said,

Lewis and Trice were booked into Davidson County Jail Friday on $10,000 bonds each.”

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Conn.men charged in scheme to defraud Mohegan Sun casino

“Men from Wallingford and Southington face felony charges after police said they worked together to adjust bets and receive excessive gambling credits.
Christian Elwood, 40, of 40 N. Orchard St., Wallingford and Jeremy Paul Howard, 40, of Southington were both charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny.
According to the arrest warrant, in May officers from the Mohegan Tribal Police began a larceny investigation involving a Mohegan Sun dealer, identified as Elwood, a patron, identified by the New London Day as Howard and a Mohegan Sun Floor Supervisor, also identified by the Day as Joseph P. Marotta, 36, of Danielson.
Security personnel and the director of table games reviewed the security footage from May 4. Howard is seen placing $3,000 in “front money” at a cashier window, the arrest warrant said. “Front money” can be used to go to a table game and call up a marker for any amount up to the deposit amount, the warrant said. Howard went to a roulette table and bought in for $300, then asked for a $2,000 marker from his front money, the warrant said. Marotta took Howard’s identification to verify the information and placed the $2,000 in markers on the table, the warrant said. Elwood then took $20,000 in gaming cheques and placed them in front of Howard, the warrant said. Howard put the gaming cheques in his pocket and left the roulette table shortly after, the warrant continued. After Howard left, Marotta entered false ratings into the system showing Howard winning more than he did to account for the missing money, the warrant said.
On May 21, Howard went to a roulette table and placed $25 gaming cheques on numbers for several rounds of play, the warrant said. Howard did not win during the rounds, but Elwood moved his bets to the winning number, paying out around $4,375 per falsified win, the warrant said. During another round Howard did win $2,250, but Elwood moved more bet markers onto the space, doubling his win, the warrant said.
During an interview with tribal police Elwood admitted knowing Howard for about a year and a half. Elwood told police moving the bets to the winning numbers must have been a “mistake” and said the piles must have fallen over and when he was tidying up the bets he accidentally moved the markers, the warrant said. Elwood denied moving the bets on purpose, the warrant said. He also denied over paying Howard the $20,000 for the front money in the first incident, the warrant said.
Police spoke with Marotta, who eventually admitted talking to Elwood about financial difficulties and Elwood talked about intentionally overpaying a patron and they would “get a piece of the action if he looked the other way,” the warrant stated.”

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