CHICAGO (CBS) — Police are teaming up with business leaders in a high-crime neighborhood on the South Side, to try to make the area safer and more attractive for doing business.
The Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce went to police recently to complain about all the prostitution, drug sales, and nuisance businesses there were along Michigan Avenue between 100th and 120th Streets.
“Why can’t our corridor look like North Michigan Avenue?” said Andrea Reed, executive director of the Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce asked. “The riff-raff and the things we have to deal with here would never be tolerated on North Michigan Avenue.”
Reed said her job has been to attract new businesses to Roseland, but that that’s been a challenge “when we have all of the social ills that exist in our business district”.
She said the Michigan Avenue corridor in Roseland used to be the “jewel of the South Side,” and that she’d like to see it that way again.
Police agreed to work on a more focused approach, starting with a three-block stretch of Michigan Avenue between 111th and 113th Streets.
The organization agreed to work with police on the prostitution problem along that stretch of Michigan Avenue, as well as getting stores to comply with the city signage law by reducing the number of signs on their storefronts. Some businesses plaster signs all over their doors and windows, making it hard for police to see inside when something is going wrong inside.
“Some of them have so many (signs) we don’t know what they’re selling,” said Calumet District Cmdr. Larry Watson. “It’s actually not a tactical advantage for us to be walking up to a place where the alarm went off and you can’t even see in the store, because there are so many signs up.”
Watson said prostitutes are being arrested, but they’re being given pamphlets that give information about resources in the community that can help them leave that lifestyle.
Reed and Watson said the program has just begun, and it’s already showing some positive results.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) weighed in on the police/community initiative, asking, “How do we get businesses here to thrive and be successful? First we have to clean it up.”