Business Liaison Officers To Be Placed Across Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Thieves are targeting businesses in Lakeview, leaving store owners with huge repair bills.

Twice in the past week, two men smashed in the front windows of businesses in the early morning hours.

Chicago police said the men stole items from businesses in the 3400 block of North Halsted and the 2900 block of North Lincoln. And police are also warning of a series of strong-arm robberies on the West Side, including one this past weekend.

The thief comes up to people and demands they hand over their property. In some cases, the man took those items by force. Police are investigating a pattern of these types of crimes in the Homan Square area since last month.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams has the latest on Chicago’s latest strategy to crackdown on crime.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants businesses big and small to join that fight. And so a partnership in the Austin neighborhood will soon go citywide.

Outside the Sunset Food and Liquor Store in Austin Monday afternoon, it’s quiet said Ninos Yaro, whose family owns the store. But not long ago, twin problems plagued this short stretch of West Division, according to the 15th District police commander.

“Not only loitering, there was shooting in the front of that particular business,” said Commander Ernest Cato of the 15th District.

The 15th District’s business liaison officer took on the case.

“His only job is to find out is to find what the businesses need,” Cato said.

And a solution was suggested: A television screen in the front window. It would show those who were loitering, or perhaps thinking about pulling out a gun, that they could clearly be seen on camera.

The commander also added foot patrols.

“Loitering has gone down. We haven’t had a shooting in that particular area since we’ve done that together,” Cato noted.

“It really does take a village to reduce violence in this city,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

On Monday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Superintendent Johnson announced they’ll soon assign business liaison officers to all 22 police districts. One tool to curb violence.

“This has to be an all hands on deck approach to making sure that we’re strengthening communities but all addressing the issue of violence,” Lightfoot said.

In Austin, Commander Cato said homicides are down 35% this year compared to the same time last year. Shootings down 41%. Ninos Yaro said his store and business liaison officer have formed a close partnership.

“We have his personal number, then we can go to the station and see him or have meetings one-on-one with him,” Yaro said. “It helps a lot.”

The partnerships came through community policing which has been around for more than 25 years. But the business liaison officers have another assignment: to  make sure businesses themselves are following the law.

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