Chicago CAP complains of homeless & prostitutes Uptown FWD

Tom Boland (
Sun, 25 Jul 1999 10:47:29 -0700 (PDT)
FWD  Chicago Sun-Times - July 15, 1999


     By Raymond Coffey Sun-Times Columnist

At a citizens' Advisory Committee meeting last fall, Town Hall District
police brought in Carmen Vargas from the city Health and Human Services
Department to discuss homelessness and prostitution in the Uptown area.

    In the process, Vargas also assured residents of the Buena Park and
East Lake View neighborhoods that he was on call and available to help them
out 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    The next evening, Christopher Pries, who is active in the Buena Park
Neighbors organization and a volunteer in CAPS Sector 20 in the Town Hall
District community policing program, joined some of his neighbors in a
night patrol of the Broadway corridor between Grace and Montrose.

    "As usual," as he wrote in a scorching letter to Town Hall Commander
Richard Guerrero five days later, "we found a homeless person sleeping in
the trucks at the U-Haul lot at 4055 N. Broadway.

    "Her name was Antoinette Jordan," he wrote. "She had been sleeping
there for three days. . . . She enthusiastically agreed" to go into a
"transitional housing program."

    So, Pries wrote, "we asked our police escorts [in car 2322] to take"
Jordan to Town Hall station to wait for pickup by Vargas. He and his night
patrol comrades then called Vargas' office and were told they would send a
car for Jordan.

    Then, Pries wrote to Guerrero, "You can imagine our surprise when, as
we continued to walk south on Broadway, we ran into Ms. Jordan again.

    "She informed us that the police officers had driven three blocks
south, stopped their car and asked her to get out. She told us the police
officers commented that `the community' was acting crazy."

    "We were confused," Pries went on, since they were doing as Vargas had
just directed, and the police seemed not to understand that they were
returning Jordan to the "cycle of homelessness."

    Since he and his companions had "committed countless volunteer hours to
CAPS and demonstrated a real track record for getting results," Pries
wondered, "how was it the officers determined we were `crazy'?"

    It all got worse. Pries and his companions called the desk sergeant at
Town Hall and were told to take Jordan to Thorek Hospital's emergency room
to await pickup by Vargas. The hospital wouldn't let her in. So they took
her to a nearby bench, bought her food, called Vargas again, and were told
Jordan would be picked up in three to four hours.

    They went back to Town Hall and asked to meet with the watch commander.
The desk sergeant, in "rude and sarcastic" fashion, told them the watch
commander would not meet with them.

    "We followed up with Ms. Jordan several times," Pries wrote, but they
never have seen or heard from Vargas, who has never responded to multiple
phone calls from the CAPS outreach worker.

    Meantime, Jordan returned to sleeping in the U-Haul trucks and the
people who participated in the CAPS walk "are thoroughly disgusted by their
interaction with [Guerrero's] department."

    In a conversation I had with Guerrero this week, he observed that I had
not identified any of the police officers involved in complaints I had
written about last week.

    The letters I was quoting from then, and more I have received this
week, contain names and badge numbers. Assuming Guerrero might be familiar
with letters originally addressed to him, I chose not to print the IDs.

    Pries' letter also contains names and badge numbers of police officers.
Two of his companions on the night patrol can verify his account. Maybe the
commander doesn't read his mail if it's critical.

    Pries still hasn't had any response from him. But, Pries advised me
this week, "The prostitution problem on Broadway and criminal activity at
U-Haul continue despite being regular topics of conversation at [Town Hall
District] monthly CAPS meetings."


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