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Caucus Party Needs to Open Its Eyes: Crime is a 'Reality' in Skokie

Skokie Voice founder Lisa Lipin says it's time to take action in our village. That it's time for change. She is running as an Independent candidate for trustee this April.

We do have a crime issue in Skokie and I for one am ready to address it head on. I've read the studies, seen the data and believe it's time for action and time to address the concerns of residents.

I just don't understand why village officials and the slated candidates are so afraid to admit there is something that we need to fix in Skokie. They only say, "We need to focus on what's good and great in the village."  Our village cannot stay great if we don't address crime.

What about the issues that are raising the eyebrows of not just long-time residents, but also those residents who have moved here more recently? Some of these newcomers have made comments on public message boards, questioning their choice to make Skokie their home. Others have stated that their children are afraid to play outside. These are not the types of comments we should be reading about our community. There shouldn't be any areas in Skokie that are viewed as scary. Nobody should be afraid to walk our streets anytime - day or night.

Village officials maintain that the concerns and fears of the residents are the manifestations of the "perception of some." In fact, while summarizing the results of the 2012 National Citizens Survey in the recent copy of NewSkokie (Feb/Mar 2013), the official village response is that Skokie is safe and the solution to the perception of crime is that "different types of communications and community education are needed to align public opinion with public safety realities." (Pg. 4).

The village’s answer to addressing crime is to convince people through "education" that crime is not a problem. I think that's ridiculous.

It's true that random incidents happen in every community, but the types of crimes on the rise in Skokie are not happening in every community. This is not the Skokie that we remember. Here are just a few of the recent incidents on our streets that many residents find unsettling:

  • 05/23/12 - A 20-year-old is the target of a shooting in the 4900 block of Louis Avenue.
  • 06/14/12 -The victim of the above incident , during rush hour, at a major intersection - Skokie Boulevard and Oakton Street.
  • 11/24/12 - A family's living room and bedroom windows are shot at. One of the younger family members was home watching TV. This happened just one block from my house.
  • 01/20/13 - A man Police said the attack might have been the result of a drug transaction gone bad.
  • 01/26/13 - while unloading her groceries in broad daylight. The offender is still at large.
  • 02/03/13 - A man is a victim of battery while walking to visit his girlfriend.
  • 02/10/13 - A man is robbed at gunpoint while waiting for friends at Taco Bell, 8329 Skokie Blvd.
  • 02/11/13 – Several shots are fired through a window of an apartment building in 4800 block of Greenleaf Street around 2 a.m.
  • 02/14/13 - Chicago police execute a search warrant and arrest two males on narcotics charges. The Chicago Police Department’s arrest came just three days after the Greenleaf Street shooting.
  • 02/14/13 – A male teen is beaten and robbed of his shoes, iPhone, and skateboard in the 4800 Elm Street by six offenders on Feb. 14.

Is crime only a "perception" issue? 

This is in addition to the plethora of other crimes and dangerous situations occurring in Skokie. And let’s not forget the crimes that go unreported.

I have personally spoken to many officers at the Skokie Police Department. They believe we need more officers on our streets. They have communicated this to village officials and to residents who have inquired. I believe we need more police in order to establish a greater presence and to have proactive, rather than reactive, policing. I can't tell you the exact number of officers that are needed.  I recently made a formal inquiry to receive the communications between police staff and village officials on this issue. My request was denied.

As an Independent candidate running for village trustee, some of my opponents seem to be dancing around the issue when asked if they believe Skokie needs more officers. Some say that we need to hire more, some say we can just reallocate our current staff, while others believe putting cameras in the parks or having smart phone apps will help resolve our crime issue.

Here’s my question: Why do we need apps and cameras at our parks if crime in our community is only a “perception?” Why are certain parks dubbed “hot spots?” And which parks are those? 

Some of my opponents have also indicated that hiring more police could jeopardize the financial standing of the village because it is a 30-year commitment per officer (despite not being staffed at budgeted levels already). But this assumes that we have to keep increased staffing levels forever. They don't take into account that as needs change, so can staffing levels through officer retirement and attrition.  

I believe that we must engage the residents, empower them and bring them into the process. We have to be honest in addressing the issues that face our community, crime being one of them. We need to create a culture where people feel safe in their neighborhoods. For decades, Skokie has been a community where people have been proud to raise their families. Now, Skokie's reputation is on the line. If we are too afraid to address the problem, then the greatness of Skokie will be diminished.

I look forward to working with all Skokie residents to bring about positive change. The time to act is now.

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Skokie Patch on Facebook

Eugene Salganik February 19, 2013 at 04:29 AM
I disagree. Look what Guiliani did in New York. Violent crime in NY has been going down since the early 90's, when New York implemented a "Broken Window Theory". Per Wikipedia (BWT): By arresting or issuing summonses to people who engage in minor violations and quality of life offenses—such as public drinking and public urination, panhandling, loud radios, prostitution and disorderly conduct—ensures that those behaviors are deterred. As explained in the Broken windows theory, aggressive enforcement of all statutes has been shown to restore a sense of order. By capturing enforcement data as reflected in summons and arrest activity, the department is better able to gauge its overall performance. Therefore, NY had to make a choice. To deal with criminal element by instituting tougher rules or let their city deteriorate. Logic prevailed, logic, mind you, not words about respect and a sense of community. Look at NY today, I have been there twice this year, it is vibrant, it is safe, and it is clean (!). Can we ask Guiliani to move to Skokie? :)
skokie observer February 19, 2013 at 01:22 PM
If this comment board shows how people in Skokie who care enough to comment and have “ideas” really are, it’s no wonder the place is in trouble. Sorry for my mistake above. So Lisa Lipin isn’t on the SkokieVoice executive, she’s only on its board of directors like many (past and present) who continue to cheerleading for her on Skokie Patch. If Voice is trying to get new people elected, why don’t they just come out and say so. What are they doing, half in and half out. What is the point. What are they about, just hearing their own voices? Of course they have the “right” to run for office and to say what they think. No one is questioning that. The question is, what does it lead to. If Lipin and other independents care so much about change, they would have banded together found others who think like they do and really challenged the SkokieCaucus party. Even IF one or two indeps get elected, they will still be outnumbered by the Caucus majority that will still be running Skokie, the people who have turned a deaf ear to the crime problem and continue to do that even as they run for office and re-election.
skokie observer February 19, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Lipin is right, there is a crime problem in Skokie. But go further then she does and figure out what to do about it. For someone who has “read the studies” and chatted with cops, she has no concrete ideas. Voting for 1 or 2 independents will not change things. Find other ways to pressure local government. Peaceful and SMART ways that do not depend on what this comment board is full of: cheerleading, denying the crime problem, insisting on solutions (like fixing the economy and education) that are beyond Skokie’s reach. Conspiracy fantasies (‘there’s a group importing crime into Skokie’), preaching about respect and tolerance that criminals don’t understand/care about, talking about rights instead of responsibilities. How are you going to organize? What is your PLAN? Or do you think blowing off steam is enuf as Skokie slowly changes for the worse and the Caucus and their lackeys keep laffing all the way to the bank? Why don’t you make yourselves some picket signs, call some reporters and get out in front of Village Hall to demand immediate action on crime? Present a three-point plan and get a spokesman/woman who is NOT running for office, so the village can’t say it's political. Gather a crowd that reflects the diversity of Skokie residents. Give the mayor and village manager a deadline and tell them that you will be out there every week (including after the election) until they act. Don’t give up, show up. And wake up about how change will happen.
Jayavarman February 19, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Here's my own Skokie moment. My daughter and I were walking one weekend evening through the wasteland known as Downtown Skokie when we heard a tremulous voice shouting, "Help me! Help me! I need help!" It was an old man dressed only in pajamas, which did not keep out the February weather. He was frightened, disoriented, cold and alone. It was a scene out of King Lear -- but this was no stage play. We asked him where he lived, and he pointed vaguely, in no particular direction, as though to say, I'm not certain I live anywhere, but I sure would like to be somewhere else. Fortunately, a police car materialized at that moment, and a female officer with a Russian accent took charge of the situation. She was unfazed, as though this sort of thing happened every day, and very likely it does. Maybe by now the Skokie cops have their own code for it. The only way to begin solving one's problems is to look at oneself closely. The fact is, we live in a socially impoverished place. When a town has no center, little public space or public life, few pedestrians, little neighborliness -- in short, not much shared -- it not only allows crime, it breeds crime. We can't police or punish our way out of this situation -- we already have one cop for every two blocks. It's so easy to attack and blame and complain; it's not as easy to connect, to care, to open oneself, to bring together. But it's the only thing that can save this town of ours, or this world.
kevin February 19, 2013 at 07:38 PM
a class to teach respect? now thats asinine.
shp February 20, 2013 at 01:47 AM
Jon -- If crime isn't an issue then why is the Village trying to pass a revised multi-family rental ordinance? Where are the crimes being committed and who are committing the crimes in Skokie? You should start asking questions and do a little homework.
Ann Gersh February 20, 2013 at 04:01 AM
Gail, I listened to your little speech at the village meeting tonight and you absolutely made no sense. I was not the only one who felt that way. Maybe you are part of the villages problem, you are oblivious to what is going on here. After this meeting I know for sure that my house will be going up for sale.
Steve Mottel February 20, 2013 at 05:35 AM
Ann, Can you please elaborate on what Gail's speech was about tonight? Thanks, Steve - 37 year resident
Lisa Lipin February 20, 2013 at 06:04 AM
Jon, I'm surprised that you've chosen to respond with questioning my integrity and referring to me as the author rather than by name. You have known me personally for many years through my work in the schools and through mutual friends. You have my phone number and personal email and know that I'm easily approachable. If you would like to chat or meet just let me know. I'd be happy to do so. Best, Lisa
Lisa Lipin February 20, 2013 at 06:10 AM
Part I - Thank you for the comments. I understand that residents want solutions for curtailing crime in Skokie, as do I. Nevertheless, before we can fix the problem, we must acknowledge it exists. Secondly, we must gather all pertinent data so we can make educated decisions. It would be disingenuous for me to declare that I have all of the answers and that I alone can fix Skokie. I will work with the other Trustees to make improvements, but I will also insist on a great deal of community involvement. For years, residents have not had open lines of communication with village officials. I will listen to residents and will effectively mobilize the community to take action.
Lisa Lipin February 20, 2013 at 06:16 AM
Part 2 - As my record demonstrates, I'm not afraid to confront what has to be done and to ask tough questions. I organized the steering committee and approached the village officials to hold a town hall meeting to address the concerns of residents back in 2010 – over 500 people attended. I incorporated and chaired a viable residents association. For years, I have been reaching out to the police, residents and victims of crime to build relationships. I believe the Village board would benefit from my experience. As far as specific details for eradicating crime, I know that we need more police on the streets and we need to work with them to make sure they have the necessary tools to keep us safe. Also, the police and fire contracts, which have been left in limbo for years, must be settled. I have filed FOIA requests to take a closer look at our safety needs, but access has been denied by village officials. As a trustee, I will have more information, and therefore, can help make more informed decisions. Simply put, I believe I can use my advocacy experience to create a stronger village board, and consequently, a stronger and safer Skokie. Feel free to email me at lisa@lipinfortrustee.com with your thoughts and/or concerns and I will respond.
shp February 20, 2013 at 02:19 PM
I'm in, Skokie Observer! I have wanted to picket Village Hall to draw attention to crime in Skokie in the media. Can you help me organize this? I believe by electing independents and pressuring the Village may create a START to change. To be fair, not everyone wants to run for trustee nor do they have the funds to do so. The Skokie Caucus party has plenty of funds to send out mailers, etc. It's hard to compete as an independentThe independents do have a plan and their campaigns are well organized. I believe by electing the independents, Lisa Lipin and Brian Novak, and there is a 3rd one, at least there will be independent ideas and a push for real change. I trust both candidates. Also not everyone wants to or are able to get out in the cold to picket Village Hall nor should we have to, but I would to make a point. We could also organize people to call the Village to register complaints about crime (I'm sure many people have done this already). After last night's Board Meeting, I'm convinced the Village will not take any action on the mulit-family housing ordinance before the election is over not knowing how such ordinance will be perceived. I'm still hopeful for Skokie! I'm going to stay. Don't under estimate "blowing off steam". Real change will happen when we have new leadership.
Ann Gersh February 20, 2013 at 02:22 PM
The meeting was televised on the skokie cable channel. You can hear her comments in full. The village would be better off if she kept her comments to herself. She lives in a bubble.
shp February 20, 2013 at 02:32 PM
Skokie Voice is a new association so who knows in the future. Although the reason for the organization in the first place was to work With the Village and any that has worked to a degree. I think the Village has listened to the Skokie Voice people. Any change of late has been because of Skokie Voice. You may want to join Skokie Voice and get involved. I have met so many good people!
Jayavarman February 20, 2013 at 03:46 PM
The deep problem in Skokie -- and in the country -- isn't the prevalence of crime, it's the absence of consciousness and conscience. So many of the commentators want more police, more authority, less personal responsibility, less social engagement. I prefer a real community to a police state. The answer to crime isn't more laws, it's a stronger social fabric.
shp February 20, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Dear Jayavarman - This isn't a real answer. It's like solving a problem with a poem. It's a theory not a solution. But thanks for your contribution.
Ann Gersh February 21, 2013 at 03:21 AM
Jayavarman, are you serious with that stupid comment, and how do you do that with your social fabric. Go ahead and give a concrete detail step by step how you would fix the problem.
Lynn February 21, 2013 at 04:16 AM
So my mom was right after all. Jayavarman: I take your point. You are not stupid. However, it's obviously not so black or white. I am sad that my childhood home is not how I remembered it. Lynn Epstein
Jayavarman February 21, 2013 at 06:13 AM
Thank you Lynn; my point is just that, that it is not black and white, which is why we need things like poetry and imagination. These are what make us human and give us empathy, which is so sorely lacking in many of these comments, especially the abusive ones, as Ann Gersh's above. What I am trying to get people to understand is that we must examine ourselves, and ask whether the problem is "out there" or "in here," in our own attitudes and assumptions. Skokie is a moribund town. Will an additional cop bring it back to life? Some of these people want to return to a past that is long gone and will never return, and was not as idyllic as they'd like to think, from the perspective of those who were excluded. The question isn't, how can we return to the past, it is rather, what changes must we make in order to create a sane, decent, livable future, one that includes all and excludes none? That would be a discussion worth having. But it requires a brain and a heart.
Susan Singer February 21, 2013 at 09:01 PM
This is not a "perception" problem as much as a "relativity" problem. My husband grew up in Skokie and referred to it as "the bubble" because it seemed shielded from the Big City problems of Chicago. Skokie is no longer the bubble, it's true. But neither is it a lawless No-man's Land. The author cites ten instances of violent crime over as many months. Chicago had 11 murders on New Year's Day alone. Since the beginning of the year and through February 10, Chicago had 192 shootings and 47 murders. https://portal.chicagopolice.org/portal/page/portal/ClearPath/News/Crime%20Statistics/1_pdfsam_compstat_public_dateofApproval_2013_week6.pdf So is crime *really* epidemic in Skokie, relative to what our near neighbor Chicago is experiencing? No. It may not be "the bubble," but it is hardly a place where citizens have to draw the shades and sleep in bath tubs to avoid being shot. When my husband grew up here, there were "greasers" - now there are gangs. Yes; they overtake parks, but the police have taken note, targeted those parks and in the case of one near my residence, the problem has been greatly diminished as a result of their actions. The 1950s are gone, American society is generally less civil than it used to be, and Skokie isn't Mayberry. Fear-mongering and finger-pointing at straw men are merely campaign tactics.
Jon Schneider February 21, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Thanks Susan. You have stated much more eloquently and clearly than I could the basic crux of the matter. You are so correct.
Ann Gersh February 21, 2013 at 09:21 PM
No they are not tactics and you know that.
Brian Hickey February 21, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Comparatives...I always love comparatives...What exactly is their relevance? More people die in Baghdad every day. So what? I don't live in Baghdad, though sometimes it feels like it. The monsters are out there. Are you trying to tell me the Monsters aren't so bad? John Lockerby is happy to spout off his flawed "statistics" courtesy of the SPD. Let's not forget the "business angle" in all this. Would you be interested in purchasing a nice 3 flat. I can offer you a very good deal!! Nicely improved. In a very flawed village with trustees committed to urban decay and "the broken windows theory". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory Streets in horrible condition, clogged sewers, broken curbs potholes on alley aprons, streets and alleys....unsightly streetscapes...on and on. Thank you Skokie. At least I can be proud of the village's appearance, huh? And get a nice ice cream cone now too.
Susan Singer February 21, 2013 at 11:03 PM
The statistics collected over 2012 are instructive: Aggravated assault down 11% Assaults down 14% Car theft down 14% Criminal damage down 12% Drug arrests down 4% Robberies down 8% Thefts down 2% These stats are part of a five-year trend. I find no justification for "the sky is falling!" alarmism.
Susan Singer February 21, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Business is often the first to alert officials to crime (as well as non-criminal "blights") as it hurts the bottom line when patrons don't feel safe coming to their stores and offices. What, exactly, is the "business angle" in John Lockerby's "flawed 'statistics'"?
Brian Hickey February 21, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Only in Skokie. A huge country, but I am betting he is the only guy in it who got that sweet valentine. Only in our community. Merchandise counterfeiters, medicare fraudsters, father and son marijuana grow operations, nuts masquerading as attorneys in the Cook County courts, grandfathers stabbing their daughters and grand daughters to death. I can go on and on....but would never want to be perceived as "rabid". I am terrified of the finger pointers. Yeah, for sure. Never been so proud of " Our diversity" as I am lately. Good thing diversity never divides, or creates division. We are becoming a regular Tower of Babel. And our Mayor refers to the general discontent of residents as "a village not without controversy". What is Susan feeding that knucklehead at night? We will only be rid of him and Rigoni after we decide to picket city hall regularly and call the TV press out to expose it on a broader platform. When it's no longer fun to go to the office every day and wreck the village, they will take off. Somewhere out there I know there's a psychologist dying to study this guy because of his level of self-delusion. Any one who doesn't perceive that there is a ton of turmoil and despair in this town is greatly self deluded or asleep. Meet some of your diverse neighbors: http://chicagogangs.org/index.php?pr=gdn
Brian Hickey February 21, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Take a good look at those faces. The GD's who claim Skokie as their turf. Right there on their damned gangster web site. It's been there for years now. Flashing their signs, showing their guns, cash....too bad the drugs aren't displayed too. When Elyn referred to them as 'Rug Rats' I am guessing she either mis-spoke or is too frightened to call them out as who they are.
Adam Turetzky February 22, 2013 at 01:16 AM
Amen!
Steve Mottel February 22, 2013 at 04:57 AM
shp, Skokie observe and all others who are sick of the crime wave, I am also in. I agree on picketing city hall and calling the media. I am sure there are many others that would going in. Lets get this movement started - some local media coverage before the election would likely help our cause!!!!!
mark irwin March 22, 2013 at 10:27 PM
My percleption of crime in Skokie took an unwelcome uptick yesterday, when someone broke into my condo building. Luckily, it wasn't my apartment they broke into. Nobody seems very clear about exactly what happened, excleplt that once the police were called, they relsponded quickly.

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