Photo: Evan Rogerson
Chicago residents reacted with both support and confusion to the Chicago Cubs’ $1 million grant to the city to pay for new security cameras around Wrigley Field.
Wrigleyville Alderman Tom Tunney announced Tuesday, May 23rd that the Cubs would be paying for 30 new security cameras to be set up around Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood.
Chris Jessup, Director of Public Safety and Community Affairs, said that the cameras will be owned by the city and will be connected to Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications 911 network. While the exact locations of the cameras have not yet been finalized, Jessup said that the general locations will be between Belmont and Irving Park, and Lake Shore Dr. and the Kennedy Expressway.
Jessup said that the addition of more private security and cameras is a positive step in the right direction as the Cubs’ and neighborhood’s popularity continues to grow.
“We’ve always had a very high influx of visitors for Cubs games, and winning the World Series magnifies that,” he said. “Not only is the stadium full, but the neighborhood is busy and crowded.”
Wrigleyville resident Adam Chalifoux agrees.
“I think that obviously Wrigleyville is a huge sports hub in the city, and it’s becoming a huge cultural hub,” he said.
Link: Chicago Cubs Security
Chalifoux said that he’s seen how the neighborhood is transforming into a focal point for the city. He said that when a neighborhood becomes as popular as Wrigleyville is, it’s only fitting that you ramp up security and keep that neighborhood a little bit safer.
DePaul student and Chicago native Gavriel Wilkins said that he understands the move, but thinks that there are areas in Chicago that need security help a lot more than Wrigleyville does.
“When you look at a place like Wrigleyville, it’s a community where a lot of the people are already together, it’s a very tight-knitted community,” Wilkins said. “Like if something were to happen there, you will hear about that right away. As opposed to somewhere on the South Side.”
Wilkins said that he’d like to see the money go to other neighborhoods in Chicago that need more security measures and outreach. Speaking on the Cubs specifically, Wilkins said, “What I’d like to see them do is work with the community more in areas like Uptown where you have a large homeless population; places where some upheaval is going on in the community.”
Wilkins said there are other areas that are far more prone to violence than Wrigley.
Chalifoux said that while there are certainly other deserving areas in the city, he has personal experience with some of the safety hazards of living near Wrigley. He told a story of a time when one of his friends got thrown through a bar window because of a nearby altercation.
“Things happen. Especially when there’s a lot of drunk people around and when there’s a lot of passionate people around,” he said. “Sports are a haven for drunk people and passionate people.”
“Things can escalate quickly.”
Photo: Evan Rogerson
While the announcement of the plan to place the new cameras came just one day after the Manchester bombing, Jessup said that the plan for new security cameras was in place long before any specific terrorist attack. However, he did speak to the effect such an event does have on the city of Chicago.
“The attacks we’ve seen across the world have an impact on the way everyone looks at public safety and major events,” Jessup said. “Additional security measures are being explored for every venue and every event across the city.”
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Chalifoux said that he believes that Wrigley Field may indeed seem like a desirable target for terrorism.
“If you think about the kind of terrorist attacks that we’ve seen in the US and abroad, a sports-venue terrorist attack wouldn’t be out of the question,” he said. “Especially an area like Wrigley that’s become such a focal point for the city.”
Wilkins also said that he understood where people are coming from in the wake of terrorist attacks like the one in Manchester.
For some, security cameras are just the first step to making Wrigleyville a safer place. In a statement to the Chicago Tribune, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said that because of “recent international attacks,” the city should consider further security measures such as the closure of streets near Wrigley Field.
In response to this, Jessup said that “While both the Mayor and Alderman Tunney remain opposed to hard street closures of Clark and Addison, we will continue to work with the Cubs, OEMC, the police and Homeland Security to promote a safe and enjoyable experience around Wrigley Field.”
Photos: Evan Rogerson
Wilkins said that he understands the purpose of the security cameras.
“My father works in law enforcement so I understand they can provide a benefit for a given business or a given entity like the Chicago Cubs where you have million of visitors at a site such as Wrigley Field,” he said.
Chalifoux said that he thinks security cameras will help an area that is in need of more security measures.
“Overall, I think it’s pretty safe but I can’t tell you about a time when I’ve been inside the Taco Bell on Addison where there hasn’t been a fight,” he said. “There’s been one every time. It’s a really rowdy area.”
While the security cameras may generally be received as a welcome step forward to Wrigleyville residents like Chalifoux, it’s a fact that Wrigleyville and the greater Lake View neighborhood is nowhere near the top in crime rates.
However, a study conducted by CWB Chicago earlier this year showed a 41% increase in violent crimes within the Wrigleyville area.
Wilkins said that he thought the city should be focusing on implementing security measures like this in other areas of the city as well, particularly the South and West Side.
“The city should be taking care of it more,” he said. “It falls upon city leaders and officials. Not sports teams.”