Citizens and Law
Enforcement Action Network Has Strong Debut
“CLEAN”s Up with Focus on Redidivism, Litter
|All smiles at the Phillips Community CleanSweep.
Scott Gerlicher of Third Precinct said CLEAN has quickly proven
the most sophisticated of several crime-watch programs in
the city, thanks to support from highly networked community
groups in Phillips.
Though numbers on the first six months of the program are
still being tabulated, Gerlicher said CLEAN has put a palpable
dent in criminal activity in the precinct’s most afflicted
corridors – and has enabled law enforcement and the
community to work better together at a time when slashed departmental
budgets have resulted in fewer officers on the street and
fewer prosecutions of livability crimes in the court system.
“It’s really there in the name: Citizens and Law
Enforcement Action Network,” he said. “Every word
has delivered on its part of the solution.”
CLEAN has been so effective, Gerlicher said, that he will
seek to expand its focus to include prostitution. Thus far,
the program has focused on tracking repeat offenders with
histories of narcotics, robbery, loitering and assault.
propose more help
In the next year,
the Third Precinct and the understaffed city attorney’s
office may have additional reason to thank the community for
its participation in CLEAN.
In a joint project, Phillips Weed & Seed and the Powderhorn
Park Neighborhood Association are assembling grants to create
a community staff position to research, document, and build
cases on misdemeanor offenses going into Judge Hopper's Livability
Court. Better cases, said Gerlicher, will mean stronger sentencing
and fewer offenders back on the street after only a day or
two in jail.
Elena Gaarder, director of PPNA, said the requested a two-year,
$125,000 Empowerment Zone grant would also be used to expand
PPNA’s Midtown Restorative Justice Program into Phillips.
“We have been helping people who commit these livability
crimes turn their lives around through Restorative Justice
and feel that supporting CLEAN is a natural complement, letting
us address both the causes and effects of self destruction,
poverty and crime."
How CLEAN works
Begun in May, CLEAN is based on a core tenet of other anti-crime
programs backed by the Phillips Partnership – that a
relatively small number of chronic offenders are responsible
for the preponderance of criminal complaints and tend to return
to familiar streets after they pass through the revolving-door
justice system for minor crimes.
CLEAN works this way: Lt. Rick Thomas of the Third Precinct
regularly updates a list of chronic offenders active in three
hot spots: Lake Street (Chicago to Cedar), Bloomington Ave
(24th to Lake) and Franklin Ave. (Portland to Elliot). The
repeat criminals he tracks, with the help of City Attorney
Scott Christenson, have tripped a combination of alarms within
the city’s law enforcement database – active warrants,
multiple arrests, suspect in multiple crimes, conditional
stays of sentencing.
The CLEAN list gets distributed through the email networks
of neighborhood organizations, business associations, Phillips
Weed & Seed and the Phillips Partnership, among several
others. Beat officers also carry the list, as do community
SAFE officers and probation enforcement officers. Enforcement
encourages victims to file Community Impact Statements to
bolster their cases, increasing the likelihood of sentencing.
Early results, long-term perspective
In August, Lieutenant Thomas issued a report on the program’s
first two months. The results were dramatic: of the 34 chronic
offenders that debuted on the CLEAN list, six have been sentenced
to prison time. Five more received workhouse time in excess
of 60 days. Twelve had pending cases that could result in
a stiff sentence. In all, 23 of the original 34 had been impacted
by the collective efforts of the Phillips community and law
Gerlicher said that while grassroots organizations are the
backbone of the community effort, the participation of influential
sponsors like the Phillips Partnership is particularly useful
in pressuring the judiciary to hand down stiffer sentences.
He said that dealing with chronic offenders must be seen as
a top-down community priority.
“Judges need to be urged to view minor offenders not
as a string of individual cases but a broader livability issue.
When they see that it’s not just a few angry neighbors
complaining that this guy or that guy is attracting trouble
on this or that block, but that this offender is standing
in the way of community well-being in the larger scheme of
improvements and investments, then you start to see less tolerance
Phillips Neighborhoods Unite for "CleanSweep"
More than 300 volunteers warmed up a very chilly morning by
participating in the Phillips
Community "CleanSweep" October 2.
Fanning out from Park and Bloomington Avenues, they picked
up street and residential trash throughout Phillips West,
Midtown, East Phillips and Ventura Village. It was the first
time that the four Phillips neighborhoods have united for
a community event.
Muriel Simmons, chair of the Phillips West Neighborhood Organization,
said, “We had an amazing turnout and we showed what
this community can do by uniting.”
The CleanSweep, planned as the first in a series of anti-crime,
quality-of-life events in Phillips, was sponsored by the Phillips
Partnership and Phillips Weed & Seed.