Nonprofit deploys text alert line to help parents, CPD prevent teens from forming chaotic crowds

Friday, April 21, 2023
Text alert line for parents, CPD aims to prevent chaotic crowds
A new initiative called "Parents for Chicago" aims to aid Chicago police and parents with preventing teens from forming chaotic crowds.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new initiative called "Parents for Chicago" is a text and email communication line that aims to help parents and Chicago police prevent teens from forming unsafe gatherings.

The project has been adopted by the Chicago Police Department in response to what happened in the Loop last weekend, when unruly crowds filled the streets.

See also: What went wrong? How chaos unfolded in downtown Chicago

Early Walker, CEO of "I'm Telling, Don't Shoot," is financing the initiative through his nonprofit organization, which will allow Chicago area parents to share information if they learn of any gatherings that could lead to trouble. It will also send parents alerts if something is happening, so they can check on their teens.

"Similar to, like, the Amber Alert system, where pretty much the parents will get a notification when we get a notification as it relates to large group forming of kids, what have you," Walker said. "You get a text message. You look at the phone, you see the text. Uh-oh. Something is going on. Let me call my kids and see if I know where they're at."

The text line is now live. Chicago police and area parents can text "CHICAGOKIDS" to 21000.

In addition to the texts, users can also use the system to submit their own tips regarding the formation of these gatherings by emailing Those tips will then be shared with CPD to act upon.

"We need to go back to 'it takes a village to raise a kid,'" Walker said. "It shouldn't be 'this is my kid' or 'I'm just going to worry about my kids.' No, these are our kids."

The joint response between CPD and Walker comes as the city grapples with finding solutions to keep large crowds under control as the weather warms.

"It is not the police department's job to babysit our kids. It's our job. These are our kids. They're babies. They didn't have them," Walker said.

On Saturday, two teenagers were shot and a couple was beaten during a chaotic scene in downtown. On Friday, a teen was shot at 31st Street Beach.

"It was so sad to see what happened downtown, and I was appalled. It starts somewhere, and it starts at home," said Pastor Kevin Ashford Sr.

Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson condemned the violence, but he also said demonizing children is not constructive. He spoke more about his initial comments Wednesday during his visit to Springfield.

See also: Unruly crowds 'unacceptable,' but don't 'demonize youth': Brandon Johnson, Chicago mayor-elect

"So don't give people false choices," Johnson said. "We get to do both, you all, it is well past due that we put an end to this dynamic that somehow not making... look, demonizing children is wrong. We have to keep them safe as well."

While this system is not a CPD initiative, police released a statement about "Parents for Chicago."

"The Chicago Police Department is supportive of community efforts to be proactive in keeping our youth safe. Working with community members is essential as we all share a common goal of strengthening safety across every neighborhood in Chicago," CPD said.

While Walker doesn't expect this system to solve the problem, he said it's a step in the right direction and one more tool at the disposal of parents.

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