Safety Committee Addresses Surge in Carjackings

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsAs carjackings continue to surge across the city, the Senate Public Safety Committee hosted a hearing on Tuesday to share updates on public safety and the fears of the increase of crime.

“With the increase in carjackings around the city, I wanted to make sure that the uprise of cases was discussed so the public could be properly informed,” State Senator Robert Peters said. “I also thought it would be best to hear from criminal justice experts on the root causes of crime, so we as legislators can learn the best methods to increase safety in our communities.”

According to the Chicago Police Department, carjackings have become too common throughout the city. Data from January show carjackings were up 183 percent citywide compared to last year. Chicago Police said their department has dedicated an additional 40 officers to help investigate the robberies.

Members of the Public Safety Committee, in conjunction with the Senate Criminal Law Committee, heard from a variety of panelists, including representatives from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. Delrice Adams, acting director of ICJIA, expressed gratitude to the legislature for passing HB 3653, and voiced the need for increased advocacy and support for youth at risk. “We must respond to the root causes of this behavior,” Adams said in light of the carjackings, with 1,415 reported.

The HB3653, authored by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, brought significant changes to police trainings, the elimination of monetary bail, and the requirement that all police officers wear body cameras by 2025, among several other changes.

This year, the CPD recorded 218 carjackings in January 2021 -a staggering spike from the 77 reported during the same time last year. Officials said CPD arrest data show carjackers are most often between the ages of 15 and 20, but arrest records show they are sometimes even younger. Further, Adams stressed the need to invest in data collection and prevention strategies.

Several panelists agreed that the increase in prison populations have been caused by policies, rather than an increase in crime, which has harmed public safety. ACLU Representative Ben Ruddell argued that legislation on criminal justice reform has traditionally been very reactive, but states could benefit from a more thoughtful and informed approach, which Illinois is on the path toward.

“I am happy that we were able to discuss these issues with our state safety and justice officials,” Peters said. “The fight for safety is ongoing, and I will continue to work with my colleagues and these officials to ensure that everyone feels safe while traveling between communities.”

In a statement by the CPD: “Community policing programs can shine a light on a better road to follow, but law enforcement needs to work alongside community groups to bring systemic change. This includes working with teachers, parents, mentors, ministers and other influencers to offer encouragement and support during the pivotal years of early adulthood.”

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

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