Skokie Mayor Van Dusen Makes Statement On Shootings, Crime Activity

He says crime will not be tolerated, and asks residents to do something specific.

Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen issued the following statement Friday. Patch is posting it in its entirely.

On Tuesday evening, August 13, 2013 the Skokie Police Department responded to an incident of shots fired at the intersection of Skokie Boulevard and Niles Center Road.  Fortunately, no one was injured but multiple rounds were fired.  As always, our Police Department is fully engaged in this investigation and we leave this process in their competent hands.  Generally, the Village leaves all statements concerning crime and active investigations to the Police Department.

At the same time, as Mayor of Skokie, I express the outrage of our residents that random violence, involving handguns indiscriminately discharged in our streets has occurred.  Even as overall crime statistics decline, the notion that guns have been used on our streets cannot and will not be tolerated by the Village.
Whether it turns out that these perpetrators were from Skokie or from outside the Village, our message is clear: “Criminal activity of all kinds will be aggressively dealt with in Skokie.”  Our Police Department will pursue all criminal acts and has an exemplary record of apprehensions.
While the Police Department proceeds to do its job to apprehend those involved and to anticipate, when possible, such malignant criminal activity, I call on each of us to take some action.  

First, organizing and actively participating in the Neighborhood Watch Program brings results in deterring crime and pushing perpetrators out of our community. Call the Skokie Police Department at 847/982-5900 for information on registering your block.  

Second, reporting what we see and not holding back information, even the slightest detail, is critical to strengthening our crime-fighting efforts.  Do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 when you suspect something is out of place in your neighborhood.  No one knows your neighborhood like you and can detect when something is suspicious.

Each of us walk the same Skokie streets and have the same concerns about safety.  We all have the same passion to maintain our wonderful community.  It takes positive, joint efforts to succeed in the fight against small elements of crime.  Finally, the Village Board has authorized continued and additional support to expand the resources and staffing of our Police Department that already has the finest facilities and equipment available.

George Van  Dusen
Mayor, Village of Skokie

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Seymour J. Schwartz August 16, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Thank you Mayor Van Dusen for your statement regarding the recent crime wave, a continuation of the same kind of wanton violent street crime that has been occurring in the village for over a year and a half. You are true to your word, and I have always known you personally to be concerned with reducing crime in Skokie. Now that the election is over and there is no need to soft peddle the violent crime issue anymore, it would be nice but not necessary for some village officials, candidates for trustee, and Caucus Party officials, particularly its chairman, who criticized those complaining publicly about the violent crime wave, to man up and do the decent thing, apologize and admit they were either mistaken, mislead or ignored the situation exposing their vulnerability in an election year. As for fighting this violent crime increase with the use of firearms, it is an indisputable fact that too many of them are being committed by young African-American males between the ages of 17 to 27. It is a fact that some are from Chicago visiting relatives who live in Skokie and who commit these crimes of opportunity. But it is also true that some live in the Village being forced out of a regentrifying Chicago. And some are committed as part of the gang drug trafficking here. It is also a fact that the vast majority of African Americans living is Skokie are decent law abiding citizens making positive contributions to this community and Skokie is the better for their presence. The most effective way to prevent the few who come from an environment where violence is unfortunately a way of life from duplicating their behavior in Chicago is for additional police officers on the force whose assignment is to identify and observe those at risk of committing these violent crimes. This hopefully will make Skokie a dangerous place for them to live and they will leave the community.
julie.naumiak August 16, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Despite the Village insistence that crime is down, the crimes of opportunity and hand gun use has increased substantially. I applaud the mayor for making this statement, now lets see real action and proactive response by the police department
Eugene Salganik August 16, 2013 at 05:10 PM
It is great that the Village is acknowledging that the problem exists. But this is easier than having a concrete plan how to fix the problem. How about hearing what is being done to prevent these kinds of things. What does it take? Installing cameras? Passing landlord ordinance? Using the same tactics as Guiliani in New York? Sharing information with other experts who deal with these types of crimes? Improving our socioeconomic base? Making it extremely uncomfortable for people to commit crime? All of the above and more? Let's hear a concrete course of action. We are ready. Are you?
Cat Lover August 16, 2013 at 06:00 PM
If neighborhoods of Chicago have re gentrified, why can't Skokie work toward re gentrification of certain areas. namely those along Skokie boulevard? There are many reasons I enjoy living in Skokie: it's proximity to the city, cultural diversity, mature trees, older homes with character, neighborhoods that are not "cookie cutter", to name a few. I do not want to be a victim of these senseless crimes. If the patrons of the Jewel Osco on Skokie Boulevard are at risk of attack by a group of teens, then I will patronize the stores on Greenbay Rd. in Wilmette.
Steve Mottel August 16, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Thank you mayor. I finally do not feel as if our concerns are falling on deaf ears. Hopefully this marks a turning point in this town.
Concern Citizen August 16, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Conceal Carry Weapon is the answer for this thug's and gang banger's to protect myself and my family.
Sandrina Roc August 16, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Conceal Carry Weapon just adds to the problem, it doesn't solve the problem. So sick of people thinking having guns solves the crime problems.
shp August 16, 2013 at 11:31 PM
I'm relieved to see that the mayor is finally doing his job by making a statement to the people of Skokie who he is suppose to serve. I hope there is a full page article in the Skokie Review for the folks who do not read Skokie Patch. This is serious and the residents want to see a plan in place to take back our Village from these violent criminals. I hope that the Mayor and/or the Police Chief see to it that the residents are informed on any arrests of the recent incidents and to assure us that there is a serious plan in place to stop the violent crime in Skokie. We do not want to hear that the "over all" crime in Skokie is down. Is that really going to matter if someone is killed by a drug dealer? I think not!
Eugene Salganik August 16, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Making a statement and making a commitment with a solid strategy to minimize crime are two different things. Let's hear a plan.
Seymour J. Schwartz August 17, 2013 at 12:09 AM
Judy Stevens, Skokie is not a good candidate for re-gentrification. Certainly not as you suggest on Skokie Boulevard. Except for a few blocks between Dempster and around Main, Skokie Blvd. is a commercial street. All the reasons you mentioned as to why you enjoy living in Skokie, with the exception of your first--(proximity to the city) exist in Chicago and even more so. Chicago has more cultural diversity, more mature trees, more older homes with character, more neighborhoods that are not "cookie cutters" etc. In fact Skokie has very few homes with character and architectural significance. Most homes in Skokie are actually cookie cutters. They were built in the growth period of the 1950s by developers on tracts with the same type of home design. The design changed over the decades; single floor band boxes, then bi-levels, then the same kind of square townhouses, and now gigantic homes designed by the same or similar blind architects. The really mature trees have been dying or died out with Skokie doing little unlike Evanston to save them such as the huge elms and now the ash tree. Your last point however about teens attacking patrons of stores like Jewel and in the parking lot at night to which I may add Walgreens on Church and Skokie Blvd. is an interesting and maybe valid point. If gets too bad, perhaps patrons will go elsewhere in droves. Unfortunately I have not heard of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce venting their concern with this prospect. Usually, they are a benign group favoring the status quo. The re-gentrification of Chicago is caused by many of the children raised in the suburbs who reject the sterility of many of them. Most are young singles and young families. They want communities of social liveliness, not fortress homes in which many don't interact with or know their neighbors. They want to be right where the action is in the big city. Look at these emerging neighborhoods in Chicago--every neighborhood is changing and many are lively & full of people both in the daytime and in the streets. Most have cafes, pubs, and restaurants with service in the sidewalks. Skokie trustees have traditionally nixed such ideas or 'ordinanced' them to impossibilities. One of the best things to liven up downtown Skokie would be to allow & encourage restaurants, the only type of business increasing in the downtown area, to have seating in the sidewalks. Look at thriving downtown areas in the north shore like Highland Park, Wilmette, and Evanston. Sidewalk seating in their restaurants enliven them. But not Skokie.
Frank August 17, 2013 at 08:20 AM
Thanks Troy, well said.
Eugene Salganik August 17, 2013 at 08:46 AM
Kudos to Seymour Schwartz! He hit the nail right on its head. Excellent assessment of our 1960s Pleasantville with faceless architecture and poor planning. Seymore, you are so right about young people who do not want to stay, my kids and their friends are counting days when they will be able to get out of Skokie and move to the City or they already moved out. Plus, with absentee landlords who only care about their own pockets, but not the community, the soil is fertile for a change of the contingent. Gentrification is a wonderful thing when everybody involved shares the same social norms.
patty o"malley August 17, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Maybe it is time to go back to some basics in our community. Lets look at how we educate our kids. Lets make our schools(all of them) a priority. In the past decisions have been made to "develop" areas(TIF) that have directly impacted schools and their funding. The basis of any strong community is the quality of their schools. People buy $400k homes in areas with good schools not a brick paved downtown. It is time to look at the impact that 5+ school districts have on a community and its ability to fund them equally. Lets do something specific and ensure the educational experience for all kids in Skokie.
Nancy Murphy August 17, 2013 at 04:37 PM
I was just reading how during the great influenza epidemic of 1918-19, Chicago Public Health officials refused to admit there was any problem at all because it would be bad for public morale. Only after hundreds were dying each and every day did they finally even admit a problem and even then downplayed it. Consequently that epidemic continued to rage here through 1920. Well now Skokie's top honchos have at least grudgingly conceded what we all have been seeing with our own eyes for several years now. I wonder, is the Village still going to celebrate the wonderful diversity achieved through Section 8 housing by continuing to cheerlead for more of it?
Elena August 17, 2013 at 09:52 PM
I think that it is commendable that the Mayor of Skokie has addressed this sad reality. I think that it is extremely transparent of the Skokie Police to publicize crimes taking place in Skokie and for the Mayor to discuss it publicly. I know that the Mayor of Lincolnwood would do the same as he is also very committed to Lincolnwood. The Chief of Police for Lincolnwood should follow suit and stop pretending that Lincolnwood is crime free. The Chief of Police ought to focus on that reality rather than to give commendations to officers for figuring out that a car is stolen or for arresting someone for committing a crime. I learned from the Lincolnwood Police that there are two convicted sex offenders living in Lincolnwood, but if you go to the Village (in person or on the web) there is absolutely nothing posted to that effect. In fact, other than the Lincolnwood Police, I do not think that anyone else knows who these individuals are or where they live, because the Lincolnwood Police refuses to disclose that information even though it is a matter of public record. Thus, I continue to question, who is being protected, the taxpayers of Lincolnwood or the sex offenders? I have raised this issue with the Village Trustees, the Mayor, the Village Manager and the Chief of Police to no avail. The Fire and Police Commission Board of Lincolnwood is supposed to be supervising the Police, but they not welcome residents and clearly hold clandestine meetings. I went to three meetings. I asked a lot of questions at the first meeting and I was told that I am the only resident who has ever attended one of those meetings, which considering how they treated me, I can understand why. I was basically thrown out of the last two because I am sure that they Chief of Police was not happy to have questions raised involving accountability, merit raises, selection of police officers and procedures. In fact, for the second meeting, the Chief of Police had the members of that Board come in through the back and they refused to hold a regular meeting while I was present and for the third meeting, they held their regular meeting before the announced start time and did not follow the agenda. Both times, they claimed to be going into a closed meeting, which supposedly had already taken place before I had arrived. In fact, it was after I raised the issue repeatedly that the Mayor moved the so-called "open" meetings from an office at the Police to another office. Does anyone in the Village other than the selected few know about that? Was it publicized? Are residents welcomed to the Board meetings? NO to all three, because in my opinion, they lack transparency and an unwillingness to have residents start to question what they are doing, how officers are hired, promoted and/or whether commendations impact upon the salary increase or step. Regardless, I will continue to push forward because I am a taxpayer and I have a right to know what is happening in the Village. Thus, I would like to congratulate to the Chief of Police for Skokie for being open with the residents of Skokie.
Seymour J. Schwartz August 18, 2013 at 01:36 AM
Elena, I suspect there are things you left out impacting your relationship with the Lincolnwood Police Department and the Village officials. I do not understand why you are castigating the Lincolnwood Police regarding Sex Offenders in Lincolnwood. It is hard to believe that they would not give you the names of these offenders as they are a matter of public record. Why would you even ask the police instead of asking them for the site online where you can look it up? Furthermore, you don't seem to understand what the sex offenders list is really about. That list includes people convicted of consensual sex with minors near the age of consent, people found in possession of child pornography, neurotics who have exposed themselves in public in addition to people who have committed sex crime acts against the consent of others, dangerous sexual predators. It are these latter ones that people need to worry about as their recidivism rate is very high. The other ones I mentioned above, although their acts are against the law and against the communities sense of scruples and sensibilities for which they have served their prescribed punishment, are largely victimless crimes. The sex offenders lists does not distinguish the type of crime they are convicted of. Finally, these offenders are entitled to the same rights as you for the most part because they have served their sentence. They are allowed to live in your community unharrassed although it would be distasteful for anyone to live near a sexual predator. But that is the price to pay in a free democratic society.
Second Amendment August 18, 2013 at 12:01 PM
A word of caution about crime reporting statistics. Most cities and towns compile data of crimes committed, both violent and less serious infractions, and report that data to the FBI through the National Incident-Based Reporting System or an older less detailed summary based data system. It has been alleged in both Large and Small Cities, Towns and Villages that inconsistencies in crime reporting has led to a misrepresented “reduction” in crime statistics in an effort to dupe the public into thinking that violet crime was down for a specific reporting period. The way that this works is the accidental or intentional “dumbing down” or “underreporting” of the severity or nature of the incident being reported that actually warranted a higher crime classification. Some of the more serious crimes that are routinely under-reported are Home Invasion, Burglary, Assault and Aggravated Use of a Weapon, Robbery, Rape and others. City leaders use Crime statistics as compiled and reported by the FBI to bolster their “reduction” in violent crime rates and support for their programs designed to reduce crime for their communities. Several studies on this subject have been initiated and the facts of under-reporting or “miscoding” have borne out. Look no further than Milwaukee, WI for an example. The same rhetoric on the reduction of violent crime in Milwaukee is notoriously similar to Crime Reduction results and strategies touted by the Mayor and Police Chief of Chicago. While I’m not suggesting that Chicago or Skokie misrepresent its violent crime reporting or miscoding crime classifications, evidence is there that agencies across this nation use this practice as a means to justify the statements of “Crime Rate Reduction” for specific time periods and I think that this practice does an injustice to the citizens of their communities who trust that their community leaders to provide true and accurate information of the status of the cities, towns and villages in which they live.
Concern Citizen August 18, 2013 at 10:53 PM
To Sadrina Roc if you don’t believed on your Second Amendment Rights that is your problem. But I do believed that this rights is given to everyone, and I will exercised it to protect myself and my family against criminal who will harm me or my family because when that situation comes on me or to my family and I will personally defend myself or my family for any reason in a harm way, because I do believe that life and death situation is just a matter of second’s or minute’s before you can call for help. Just remember you’re the only first person who can protect yourself or your family, in a harm way and that’s the reason why I don’t defend on police for my own safety and my family, because they are not always there instantly when you need them. By the way Conceal Carry is not a solution to the crime but it’s a solution to the victims to be, who wants to protect themselves for this ongoing helplessness crime in our village. Also, always remember criminals don’t afraid in our existing laws; gun ban is not the answer for thugs, gang bangers either. Proposing this, the more you give criminals a more power to commit crime because they know the public is powerless. Conceal Carry saves lives
Sandrina Roc August 19, 2013 at 09:34 AM
NRA BS. It was meant to protect the nation, not to have everyone under the sun carry a gun. Too many hot headed people walking around out there. I don't want them carrying a gun. Also so many times a family member gets killed because a gun wasn't locked up or a family member came home when unexpected and oh it must be an intruder, bang you're dead. Go ahead, carry your gun, just show me your picture so I can stay far away from you.
Second Amendment August 19, 2013 at 10:37 AM
Sandrina; You have your beliefs, I have mine and then there is the LAW. Illinois just became the LAST STATE to allow Concealed Carry. That means that all of the other states have been doing it and most of them for years. Where are all these family member killings? Did you know that there are more people killed each year with knives and blunt objects than guns? Facts are facts. Another fact is that crime has been reduced by allowing law abiding citizens who have training and pass background checks the right to be able to carry and defend themselves. This is called deterrence. Criminals prey on the easy target. It bolsters a sense of power over their prey. They do not want confrontation. They will move on to an easier target and more specifically the defenseless. So if you are so afraid of standing next to a person who has a LEGAL firearm then I would have to believe that you have nowhere in America left to go. Every State now allows some form of firearm carry. Those are the laws and the facts. Australia is a gun free zone. Look at the tremendous crime against persons that occur there. IF you want a gun free environment you might want to seek relocation to an eastern bloc nation, Great Britain or Australia. For me, I'll take a well-trained law abiding man or woman standing next to me anytime as opposed to the lawless with guns and ill intent. Furthermore, the right to bear arms was established as the 2nd Amendment and provided protection from a tyrannical government. It was 2nd for a very good reason and right behind the 1st (freedoms) one of which all of us here are using today on this blog.
conspiracist August 19, 2013 at 11:24 AM
Like everyone else, I am glad the mayor made a statement, however, where is the “plan”? Is concealed carry the answer? Hell no, we need less guns, not more. Is more police the answer? It might help, but the reality is the police, as great as they are, cannot be everywhere all the time. Thugs and criminals are smarter than we give them credit for, they can identify police and in most cases avoid law as they conduct their criminal activities. Only the stupid ones generally get caught. Not to mention adding more police is expensive. Cost goes way beyond a yearly salary, there is additional vehicles, training, pensions, insurance, etc... So, what is a potential alternative? Technology. Webcams. Unknown to most residents is the fact that there’s a high speed fiber network (I-NET) that is shared amongst the Village, Parks, District 219, District 73.5, District 68, the Library and a few others. This network also contains pairs of dark fiber (unused) that have always lied dormant i/e NEVER been used. The problem with this network is that each entity treats their own faculties as an island (private network) and they don’t take advantage of the collective group as a whole. So…. Imagine “lighting up” an unused pair of fiber creating a single village wide network (VLAN) that could be used to for the sole purpose of installing web cams? For the cost of hiring 3 additional police officers, 100’s of cameras, yes, 100’s of cameras could be deployed with police having live 24/7 access, as well as the ability to go back in time to investigate a crime that took place in a park… or around our schools… anywhere where these 100’s of cameras might be deployed. In the incident here that sparked this entire article, i/e shots fired at the intersection of Nile Center and Skokie Blvd, it is not out of the realm of possibility that... had cameras been deployed, the entire incident could have been captured on video. Not out of the realm of possibility that a make, model, license plate all captured along with a description of the thugs involved. Imagine giving our current police this tool? Other communities would love to be in our position. Meaning, having a fiber backbone in place…. Waiting… just waiting to be used. A fiber backbone is the largest cost of implementing such a solution, and we have one… and it lies dormant as it has for the last decade. Imagine then, moving forward, each year more cameras deployed and as franchise agreements come up for renewal, negations with AT&T, Comcast, RCN, or anyone else wanting to get their foot in the door that we negotiate access to their fiber backbone and eventually light up the entire Village. So what does it take? It takes vision. It takes the ability to look and think outside the box. It takes a strong leader. A leader who can work with other the local governmental agencies and convince them that this is for the overall good of the Village as well as their respective entities… and yes… it takes money. I personally think… however… it would be money well spent…
Eugene Salganik August 19, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Great post! This is exactly what we need! and this is exactly what Crime-Free Skokie (https://www.facebook.com/crimefreeskokie),a newly organized movement to organize a rally against crime was saying.
Jerry Kohn August 19, 2013 at 01:01 PM
Skokie Voice would like to applaud Mayor Van Dusen's statement regarding the recent disturbing incidents in gun crime over the past two weeks, including shots fired last Tuesday afternoon at Skokie Blvd. and Niles Center Rd. Skokie Voice would like to ask the Mayor what specific plans are in place to keep all Skokie residents safe? What plans are being made to communicate with residents to assure our safety? How is the village working with village businesses to increase safety? What precautions are being taken at both the Yellow Line stations and in the areas where armed robberies have occurred? How will you address the increasing street gang activity in Skokie? Skokie residents want to be informed so we can work together to build a safe community. We request an open productive communication between residents, Mayor Van Dusen, trustees and Chief Scarpelli. The Skokie Voice Board of Directors
Eugene Salganik August 19, 2013 at 01:20 PM
From Crime-Free Skokie "Now that the Mayor acknowledged that the problem exists, residents of Skokie should receive a concrete deadline when the Village will come up with a specific course of action. The Village officials should not forget that the reason they are in the office is us."
Sandrina Roc August 20, 2013 at 12:17 AM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/damon-holbrook-michigan-3-year-old-shoots-self_n_3779274.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl5%7Csec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D360180 All you gun activists, does this kind of story make you happy? This is what I hear more than you protecting anyone. So sad for you that you need the power of a gun.
longtimeresident August 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM
Hey Skokie Voice ... good questions. Your website says your board of directors has 7 people. How many members do you have in Skokie and who do you represent? Do you just talk on Patch and write letters to the editor or really do something? The village could use the help ...
Concern Citizen August 20, 2013 at 11:38 AM
To Sandrina Roc..I read the link and I'm felt sorry to the kid and the family. First of all, I dont used my emotion to the problem, that case is an accident. But what I dont understand why you are so upset with a law abiding citizen with a gun. Just an example, and this what you have to, if you own a gun you know how to be responsible the same way when you are driving your car let me tell you there's a lot more people got killed in a "car accident" everyday...but I dont know if you feel the same way with those irresponsible driver. Consider also those senior citizen driving who got involved in accident because they put the gas pedal instead of brake, are you also feel the same way not giving them opportunity to drived. Just a note: there's no perfect person in this world..and safety is you.
Second Amendment August 20, 2013 at 07:31 PM
For those interested here are over 600 instances where an armed citizen has protected himself, his family or his business with the use of a legally owned firearm. Certainly way more than the 1 accidental shooting mentioned above. http://www.rationalityrebooted.com/ 5 of those have been here in Illinois. Legal gun owners are not the problem.
Second Amendment August 20, 2013 at 07:44 PM
And for those of you who don't mind looking at statistics from the NRA here are nearly SIX THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (6500) more! As recently as yesterday. Please don't insult me by saying armed citizens don't reduce crime. http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/armed-citizen.aspx
Eugene Salganik August 21, 2013 at 11:18 AM
This appeared in Crime-Free Skokie (https://www.facebook.com/crimefreeskokie): Doing nothing is a choice. America could still be a British colony, Nazi regime would rule the world, and Osama Bin Laden could still be living in luxury while guilty of taking the lives of thousands. However, there were people for whom the status quo was not an option. People who saw a problem and dealt with it the best way they could. And, as a result, we have the United States of America, Nazi regime is in the history books, and OBL is where he belongs. Skokie is not a huge metropolis that has any meaning to anyone except us, Skokie residents. And we are not asking for much. How about safe streets for our residents? How about better and quicker response to the problems that we, as Skokie residents, did not create? We did not speak up and the decision was made for us. If we continue to ignore our community, the best and the brightest will leave and whoever stays behind will have to deal with the types of problems that we only see on Nightly News. It is just a matter of time and the time is not on our side. How about Skokie Spring? On our terms.


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