Chicago neighborhood pays for extra security

A private security firm patrols the streets of Marquette Park, in addition to the Chicago Police Dept.

Residents say every bit of security helps, but crime still occurs. There was a shooting in the neighborhood Thursday morning as children walked to school -- before private security officers were on duty.

Still, Marquette Park residents say they feel safer.

Scenes where the crime tape is up, police look for evidence and detectives talk to neighbors and witnesses are all too familiar for Marquette Park residents. A man was shot in an alley near 69th and Rockwell Friday morning.

Although crime is a problem in the area, residents say they feel better knowing that there is extra security in the neighborhood.

"You need both now. You can't sit in your backyard because everyone keeps getting shot around here," said area resident Leo Forbes.

The cars the private security officers use are unmarked, but they look like police cars. An armed guard is behind the wheel. Those guards patrol approximately 100 city blocks on the city's Southwest Side, which is an area including more than 3,500 residences.

Home owners in the area pay for the extra security out of their tax dollars. On the bill, it reads 'Special Service Area 14," and the cost per taxpayer is $85 each year, which is approximately $7 per month.

The city collects the tax dollars and gives the money to the Lithuanian Human Services Community Center, which then pays the security company.

"It's a very good use of tax dollars. We are neighbors protecting neighbors," said community leader Joe Kuyls.

Kuyls has lived in Marquette Park his whole life and helped lead the effort to bring the extra security to the community.

"The security works in conjunction with police, but they come here sooner, help us out sooner," he said.

Flyers in the neighborhood inform residents about the service, and there is a telephone number they can call for help 24 hours a day.

"It's a little more safe. They can see what's going on even before the [Chicago police] get here," said Carl Alexander, Marquette Park Resident.

Nevertheless, Kuyls says he's not sure the extra security services will continue.

"We have not received great support from the alderman, Lona Lane, but she is coming to a meeting tonight. We want to express to her a need that we should have our own security," he said.

Ald. Lona Lane, who represents Chicago's 18th Ward, told ABC7 Chicago Thursday evening that she not only supports the program but also is working to have an additional car put on the streets.

She also said other aldermen are interested in bringing private security to their wards.

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