Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his schools chief on Tuesday clarified the strategy behind Safe Passage and touted the importance of the program, hours after a spray of bullets along one such route in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood left five people injured.
It was the second shooting along a Safe Passage route, which are designed to give students a protected path to and from school, in a little more than a week.
"Safe Passage is just not the geographic passage where children walk. It's a comprehensive strategy involving multiple resources of the sister agencies," Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told reporters at a press event at Jones College Prep.
But she added that Monday evening's shooting at North Sheridan Road and West Wilson Avenue happened just before 6 p.m., a time when students would normally not be walking to or from school. A fatal shooting along another Safe Passage route on the 2900 block of South State Street a week earlier happened on a Saturday.
"That doesn't minimize my sympathy for any child or any person who is hurt on a particular street, but Safe Passage is slightly different," she said.
Emanuel said his ultimate goal is that designated Safe Passage routes won't be necessary.
"Every child is a Safe Haven child, and my goal is that every street is a Safe Passage street for the city of Chicago and its children and its families," he said. "When kids go to school and come out of school I want them to be thinking of their studies, not their safety."
Ald. James Cappleman (46th), whose ward includes the intersection where Monday's shooting took place, said going forward that three squad cars would be stationed in three of Uptown's crime "hot spots" 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He did not specify if the intersection of Sheridan and Wilson was considered one such hot spot.