10-26-2016-12-04-37-PM-8223778

Cops ready for Cubs fans, Pontecore says

If the Chicago Cubs defeat the Los

Angeles Dodgers this week and win the National League pennantÑthe team’s first

since 1945ÑChicago Lawn (8th) District police are ready for what

will most likely be over-the-top celebrations, even in White Sox country on the

Southwest Side, Commander Ronald Pontecore said earlier this week.

The district’s top cop made brief

mention of thereadiness at Monday’s

public meeting of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch,held at St. Jane Parish’s Ward Hall.

About 50 people attended.

Born and raised on the Southwest

Side, Pontecore described himself as “a committed White Sox fan” as he first

joked that his real public safety concern was rowdy White Sox fans partying in

the streets if the Cubs collapsed in the playoffsÑwhich brought laughter from

the mostly partisan crowd.

On a serious note, Pontecore said CPD

does “have a plan” to address crowd control and protect people and property,

although he did not discuss specifics other than to note that he has “sent

letters to the establishmentsÑthe bars, the liquor stores, carryout

services–about not serving [beer] in bottles, serving it [instead] in plastic

cups, making sure that they keep their [customers] in line and don’t let them

go crazy in the streets.”

The CPD drill is expected to be much

the same as it has been during the spontaneous street celebrations that broke

out after the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup championship celebrations in this

decadeÑmost recently in June 2015. While crowds were loud and jubilant on

Archer Avenue and elsewhere in the district, a strong police presence helped

ensure safe celebrations with near-zero property damage or arrests.

Committed to

beat integrity

On other topics, Pontecore repeated

what he told the Southwest News-Herald in an exclusive interview last

monthÑthat he is firmly committed to maintaining the “beat integrity” system

put in place years ago by Commander John Kupczyk. The mere mention of Kupczyk

on Monday drew applause from the crowd, nearly five years after the popular

commander died suddenly.

“John Kupczyk was a friend of mine,”

Pontecore said. “He was a great police officer, and I am committed to the same

ethic here in the Eight District as he was.

“I believe strongly in beat

integrity,” he continued. “You will not lose [police] cars on this end of the

district. Your beat cars will remain out here, your rapid-response cars will be

out here. They will not go east in this district unless, of course, if we have

something major going on, like an officer is in trouble or things like that.”

He added that applies to all beats in

the district.

Beat integrity was a tactic designed

by Kupczyk to ensure that police cars patrolling beats on the district’s west

end are not redeployed to east-end hotspots. For years before Kupczyk’s

arrival, people in Garfield Ridge and ClearingÑand even in neighborhoods

immediately east of Midway AirportÑcomplained that they were left unprotected

by redeployment of their beat cars to the Western Avenue corridor, a relatively

high-crime portion of the district then and now.

Garfield Ridge “is a great

neighborhood, and I want to keep it that way,” Pontecore added. “My goal is to

one day leave the Eighth District a safer district than it was when I walked in

here.”

He also praised the district’s rank

and file police officers, saying they “do an astounding job” day in and day

out. The audience showed its agreement by giving the officers in the back of

the room a standing ovation later in the meeting.

Also at the meeting GRNW board member

Arlene White announced that the group’s recent Sell-A-Bration event at Kennedy

High School raised more than $1,600, which will be donated to several local

crime prevention endeavors.

Finally GRNW President Al Cacciottolo

announced that the GRNW’s 115 members are encouraged to sign up for one of 40

spots on a bus that will conduct a group patrol later this month in Beat 811.

The purpose of the exercise is to re-acquaint members with the basics of how to

patrol the neighborhood’s streets, alleys, parks and school grounds safely and

effectivelyÑso that they may get back into the mix of patrolling in their own

vehicles.

Those members interested are

encouraged to send an email to [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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