CHICAGO (CBS)–A special security surveillance system has helped keep Marquette Park safe for decades, and now residents want to know why it’s being shuttered after their local aldermen failed to renew the ordinance that regulates the program.
Without the extra eyes to pad police coverage, many are worried criminals will once again feel welcome in their neighborhood.
About a dozen cameras help monitor the streets throughout Marquette Park, in areas known as hot spots for crime.
A dispatcher sits on guard, monitoring the cameras remotely, and is ready to send in his crews if something goes awry.
Out on the streets is Narvell Darling. He and a team of other officers keep tabs on what’s going on in the neighborhood.
One cold November evening, he sees a few men mingling near a storefront, rolls down his car window, and politely asks them to move along.
“Come on fellas how you doing tonight,” Darling says to the men.
Without incident, the men start to move slowly down the sidewalk.
The security network serves as an extra set of eyes and ears for Chicago police, but after 26 years, the program, known as “Special Service Area 14,” or “SSA” is coming to an end by the new year.
Some residents like Joe Kulys are raising questions about why the community-funded program is ending.
“For the last 26 years, incredible peace of mind,” Kulys said.
Darling said the program serves a beneficial purpose for the community.
“It’s a sad thing that it’s going to be taken away from them,” Darling said.
The program is funded by property taxes paid by the neighborhood.
“For $100 a year, I get security for all year round,” Kulys said at a community meeting Wednesday night.
Residents are now worried about what will happen when the cameras darken and the patrols come to an end.
“Of course it is going to cause a void, and that void is going to cause crime,” Darling said.
18th Ward Alderman Derrick Curtis and 17th and 18th Ward Alderman David Moore didn’t comment on why they decided against renewing the ordinance for the SSA.