Based upon the turnout and the participation level at our last meeting, we continue to be confident and encouraged about what we can achieve as a community. Our base of support continues to broaden.
Our general meetings are only 90 minutes long. They are usually limited to the presentation of strategies that have been formulated and structured in advance of the meeting. At our last general meeting, we tried to include time for more discussion. As a result we were not able to finish our entire presentation.
In summary, the agenda items were:
- Strategy for Neighborhood Safety
- Spring Clean Up
- Meetings with Elected Officials
Strategy for Neighborhood Safety
The weather is heating up and we can expect the activity in the streets to heat up as well. We insist that Austin residents get the same level of police service as any other community. If there is a shortage of police manpower, no area of Chicago should experience a greater loss than any other.
The police have refused our requests for data comparing our service level with the service level in other neighborhoods. We must start to capture the data that will inform the police department of our actual experience.
The strategy we propose consists of three parts.
- 911 Call Log
- 911 Call Tree
- FOIA Request
Place 911 Call and Create a Log
Each time you make a call, you must keep a record of it. You will need to capture the following information:
- Type of Problem
- Time you witness police response, if any
Create a Call Tree and get other residents to call about the incident
Safety is a concern for all of us. We must not allow the police or others to ignore the needs of our community. We need more than one person to report each incident. When you make a call to 911, you must inform others so that they can also call 911 to report the incident.
A Call Tree which lists the names of others who are willing to call has to be developed. Neighbors need to come together to get 10 or 20 residents to agree to support each other by making calls as a group.
Prepare a FOIA Request to find out how call was handled
FOIA is an acronym for the Freedom of Information Act. FOIA is an open-government law grounded in the principle that the public should be able to access public records and information about the workings of their government.
We have a right to find out how the Police Department handled our call. We can find out by submitting a written FOIA request.
- No specific format is required.
- No standard form is required.
- No reason for your request is necessary.
- Be as specific as possible about what records you are requesting.
- Include your name and contact information
Here is a sample prepared by the Better Government Association
January 1, 2010
Dear FOIA Officer (use specific name):
This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
I would like copies of records of all of your agency’s current employees and officers, including each person’s name, title, hire date, current salary and overtime paid in 2006.
Please send a copy of the records to me at the address below. I would also be happy to accept the records electronically. Because these records are in the public interest, I ask that you waive any reproduction fee.
If you deny this request, please tell me on what grounds, and to whom I should appeal.
- Mary Frances O’Connor
Better Government Association
223 West Jackson
Chicago, IL 60606
As a group, we would collect this information over a period of weeks. We would then review it and compare it with the data from another neighborhood in Chicago. That analysis would determine our next steps in our effort to achieve an equal allocation of police services.
Spring Clean Up
Saturday at 8:30AM we will meet at the corner of Madison and Austin. We will clean the 16 blocks bordered by Austin, Menard, Madison and Corcoran. We hope to see you there.
In May we will begin to plant the corners. We welcome volunteers to support this effort. You can donate flowers, fertilizer, and other materials. You can donate your time. You can commit to keeping up a corner. Contact us and let us know what you’d like to do.
Meeting with Elected Officials
We would like to see a comprehensive strategic plan for the Austin community
- Economic Development
- Youth and Families
- Public Safety
We believe that it starts with a vision. We need elected officials with clearly articulated vision, documented projects and measurable indicators of success.
We formulated a letter to request a meeting with elected officials to determine their specific plans and to discuss with them our expectations and vision for the community. A letter was delivered to Alderman Deborah Graham.
Our next meeting is April 19,2011. Our agenda will include:
- Strategic Plan for Austin
If you’d like to contribute to the development of either topic for presentation at the next meeting, please contact us before April 12, 2011.