In a couple of weeks, about 100 Cook County Sheriff's officers will be patroling Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood, Sheriff Tom Dart said Wednesday.
Community leaders from the neighborhood penned a letter to Dart Tuesday asking for the county’s help in combatting the area’s pressing crime problem.
“Our families have and continue to be connected to this gateway community that is home to thousands of immigrants trying to achieve the American dream,” the letter reads. “However, for too many people, pursuing that dream has turned into a nightmare as the culture of gangs and violence have replaced the longstanding neighborhood culture of hard work, determination and togetherness.”
Among Chicago’s neighborhoods, Back of the Yards and New City are currently ranked second for first- and second-degree homicides, third for aggravated battery, fifth for aggravated assault and prostitution and ninth for criminal sexual assault, according to raw data from the Chicago Police Department’s ClearMap Summary.
Ald. Raymond Lopez, of Chicago’s 15th Ward, is leading the initiative to address crime in the neighborhood. The letter to Dart was also signed by Craig Chico, president of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, Marina Alonso, parent coordinator of the Hedges Fine/Performing Arts Academy, and Dan Marquez, president of Aztec Supplies.
In order to combat the neighborhood’s crime, leaders requested assistance from the Dart’s Police Gang Unit, Narcotics Unit, Vice/Human Trafficking Unit and Gun Team. The group hopes that these units can work in accord to build a strategy for crime reduction in the neighborhood.
Newly appointed Interim CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson and the Commander of CPD’s 9th District, Daniel Godsel, were also cc’d on the letter.
Dart responded to the neighborhood leaders Wednesday, claiming that in roughly two weeks 100 sheriffs will be in the Back of the Yards. He also plans to meet with CPD to coordinate patrol areas.
“I’m meeting with Mr. Lopez today,” Dart said. “Back of the Yards has been receiving a lot of crime. We will just be there to assist CPD and bring additional resources.”
“We need to restore trust in our community,” Dart added. "A lot has been happening in Chicago."
Lopez said Wednesday he had also spoken with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Godsel about reaching out to Dart.
He voiced concerns about dealing with the rising tide of violence that typically comes with the fast-approaching summer.
“We need more help,” Lopez said.