Boystown using crime data, added security to curb summer mayhem

Thu. May 28, 2015 9:25 AM by Andy Ambrosius

The Northalsted Business Alliance is spending $75k on private security for Chicago’s LGBT community

Chicago, IL - Crime-fighting in Boystown is poised to get smarter this year as local officials plan to pair annual crime data with added security, cutting down on the summer uptick in mayhem.

It's all a part of the Northalsted Business Alliance's "Keep Pride Proud" movement, which aims to promote both fun and safety in "Chicago's Proudest Neighborhood." While this the fourth consecutive year the organization has hired additional private security to patrol Boystown, they hope new data trends will smarten ways to allocate time and resources.

"What we've done is evaluate the great data about the trends, both qualitative and quantitative," NBA executive director Christopher Barrett Politan told "Our team gives us weekly reports, so we temper the security to respond to that. We've found some weekends over the last 2-3 years that have been statistically and oddly active, meaning they don't correlate to a festival or anything. We're using that trending data to inform our staffing."

The business alliance spends upwards of $75,000 annually on the private summer security where anywhere between 6-8 off-duty police officers work to patrol the streets on a typical weekend. During weekend events like Pride Fest or Market Days, they increase that number to 10-14 officers.

And according to Politan, the program actually works. While the private security can't make the actual arrest, they can hold offenders until partnering on-duty officers with the 19th District Chicago Police Department arrive. They've done so multiple times over the years.

"We're very fortunate because the firm that we work with has a great relationship with the 19th District here, and has, in fact, detained a number of folks while CPD comes and makes an arrest," he said. "Having this program in place allows us to have a very visceral presence, and it allows for a direct and quick link to police because the 19th District is so large. It's a great working relationship."

While the organization represents more than 80 businesses along the Halsted Street corridor, funding for the annual security program comes primarily from events like Chicago Pride Fest, Northalsted Market Days, and the Halloween Parade.

It's also during those events that the business alliance hopes "Chicago's Proudest Neighborhood" will shine through. 

"Our bigger commitment is around the notion of 'Keep Pride Proud,' which is our tagline for the summer, not just during PrideFest or on the weekends," Politan explained. "We're super excited to welcome hundreds of thousands of people into the neighborhood in the next couple of weeks, but how are we doing our best work to ensure everyone is having a great time and enjoying the neighborhood while encouraging everyone to keep it safe?"