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Police foundation chief praises Garfield Ridge

A top police official heaped praise upon the Garfield Ridge neighborhood earlier this week, calling its work to prevent crime and promote safety extremely important.

Leading that work is the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, said retired CPD Supt. Phil Cline, himself a former Garfield Ridge resident. He made his observations at the GRNW’s August meeting, held Monday night in the gym at Byrne Elementary School. About 90 people attended, with folding chairs hastily unfolded to accommodate the larger-than-usual crowd.

ÒWhat you’re doing in this communityÑwith your signs, your supportÑmeans a lot to cops. Cops don’t get that a lot,” Cline said. ÒSo when they see these signs–blue lives matter, we support our police, our police are gr8–that makes them feel good that they’re working in this community. It really does. It makes a big, big difference, so please continue to do that.”

He added citizen support for law enforcement comes at a critical time, when police officers and their families feel a heightened sense of anxiety in what many see as an anti-police mood among some communities, including much of the larger news media organizations in the city and across the country.{{more}}

On the more general topic of crime prevention, Cline said that Òa lot of people talk about keeping their neighborhood safe, but not everyone turns that thought into action. Those who think that keeping a block, a neighborhood, a community or an entire city safe is solely the job of the police are just wrong. It takes everyone working together to solve problems; but more important, it takes everyone working together to anticipate problems so that they can be addressed before they happen.

ÒWhen I was a police officer working a beatÑand I was a Chicago cop for 37 yearsÑwe always knew what neighborhoods or blocks involved neighborhood watches,” the retired top cop continued. ÒYou knew that when people were invested in the safety of their own homes and communities, that you could trust them and work with them to address crime and public safety.”

Crime prevention is more than working with police, Cline added. ÒIt’s about communicating with each other. Telling your neighbors that you left your garage door open, taking in a package that has been sitting on a neighbor’s front porch, keeping an eye on a neighbor’s house when they’re on vacation, making sure that all the kids on the block are safe and making good choices. That’s the kind of neighborhood we all strive for, and that’s what Garfield Ridge is, thanks to you.”

Cline founded and directs the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, a non-profit established in 2004 to Òhonor the lives of our fallen heroes. The Foundation provides support and assistance to the families of Chicago police officers who are killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty,” according to a description on its website.

He urged everyone at the meeting to consider participating in the CPMF’s candlelight vigil, set to start at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 at Gold Star Families Memorial and Park, 1410 S. Museum Campus Drive. Those interested in attending also will have the opportunity to read the names of fallen officers. For more information, visit cpdmemorial.org.

Also at the GRNW meeting, the group saluted the world champion Clear Ridge Senior League baseball team. Most were there in uniform, along with manager Mark Robinson, CRLL Vice President Ryan Aderman and others. The audience gave the boys a prolonged standing ovation.

The team later led the audience in a standing ovation for nine-year-old Isabella Marusarz, a St. Symphorosa student who raised $100 for police by drawing pictures of police officers and then selling them to relatives at a family party.

GRNW President Al Cacciottolo noted that a number of the group’s members plan to serve as a volunteer court advocates for a day on Wednesday, Aug. 24 and attend a court hearing for several Little Village residents charged with stabbing and robbing a 36-year-old Garfield Ridge woman on Saturday, June 4 in the 6900 block of West Archer. Those interested in joining the GRNW as silent witnesses supporting the victim and demanding justice are encouraged to contact the GRNW at [email protected]

GRNW officers also thanked Byrne Principal Chantel Angeletti for her leadership in getting the school’s youngest students to make thank-you cards for police officersÑwhich are now displayed in the lobby of Eighth District headquarters, 3420 W. 63rd St.

ÒIt was a good experience,” Angeletti said. ÒEight police officersÑsix of whom are fathers of students hereÑcame to the school and spent time with the kids.”

Angeletti also said that Byrne will host an open house on Thursday, Sept. 8Ñwith a fundraiser following at the Potbelly sandwich shop at 57th and Harlem. Potbelly will donate a portion of all sales from 5 to 8 p.m. that evening to Byrne. The last such fundraiser netted $600 for school, she noted.

Finally, GRNW board member Arlene Norton-White noted that the group plans to host its fall Sell-A-Bration event on Sept. 24 in the Kennedy High School parking lot at 56th and Narragansett. Donations of empty wicker baskets and gift items to fill them are needed. Those interested should email the group at [email protected]

(Editor’s Note: More news coverage and photos in the print edition of the Southwest News-Herald, available on local newsstands. Or better yet, call 708-496-0265 during weekday business hours and order convenient home delivery for about 50 cents a week.)

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