CHICAGO (SCS) — We first told you about Chicagoans who were hiring private security guards to fight crime in their neighborhoods late last year, but tonight you’ll get rare access to what it’s all about. than patrol the streets.
Jackie Kostek takes you on a ride you’ll only see on CBS 2.
Ramonde Harris begins his patrol in Bucktown just after 5 p.m.
“I control from Honoré – which we just left – to Damen and from North Avenue to Armitage,” he said.
An Air Force veteran and retired federal law enforcement officer, Harris now spends about four nights a week as a private security guard for P4 Security Solutions – the company hired by a group community in Bucktown late last year in response to an increase in crime, particularly carjackings and burglaries.
“You have some unusual vehicles driving through the neighborhood. I’m looking for those too. They’re normally the ones looking to rob a car,” Harris said. “They’re walking down the aisle all the time. They’ve got backpacks, and you can have burglary tools in there; you know, crowbars, screwdrivers, etc. Anything that could pry open a door or break a lock.”
“Our scope is really to observe, to report, to deter,” said Steve Vitale, an executive at P4.
Vitale said officers like Harris provide an extra set of eyes and ears for the neighborhood and can help police by reporting information in real time.
“We want to reduce the incidence of crime. If we see a garage door open, we’ll tell that neighbor and go close that garage door. If we see a package on the doorstep, we’ll help bring that package inside,” Vitale said.
This real-time communication between P4 agents and neighbors is done virtually via Slack. But the guards are also connected to the P4 command center in Downers Grove, where two dispatchers monitor the inward and outward cameras 24/7.
Jackie Kostek: “Okay, Ray, say the scanner goes off with something going on in your area, Bucktown area 1, what do you do if you hear something go off on a scanner where you know the CPD officers are going will go to the scene of whatever happened, are you going?
Harris: “Yes, I do. I’m trying to go, and I’m definitely going to go and see what happens. And then, if I need backup, I’ll call Bucktown 2. There’s security in the numbers. Once the police come, if I arrive before them, I inform them. If they arrive before me, I ask questions, “Hey, what’s going on”, so that I can put it on Slack and let residents know that’s what’s going on.”
Whether the extra security — which costs the Bucktown group about $180,000 a year — makes neighbors comfortable is still up for debate.
P4 leaders say CPD crime statistics show their patrols are making a difference, but neighbor Steve Jensen says the real test will come this summer.
“We are watching and waiting,” he said.