The Belt Railway of Chicago Police Department began a community outreach program in March 2014. A year later, it is reaping the benefits.
The original concept of converting the standard neighborhood watch to a railroad watch sprang from Chief Mike Romano, director of police and risk management, and Officer Jerry Conoboy’s daily initiative meetings. Both have past experience with the Berwyn Police Department and know the benefits of the neighborhood watch.
“We go door to door to the houses and businesses along the tracks to introduce ourselves and work,” Conoboy said. “We give them laminated cards with our contact information in case they see anything suspicious.”
These citizens are now an extension of the department’s eyes and ears.
“It gives them the option to call us directly instead of the Chicago PD,” he said. “They appreciate how we know the area and what they are talking about.”
After a call, officers investigate the area and will follow up with the citizen explaining what they saw, who they spoke with and the outcome.
Thus far, they have contacted more than 250 businesses and citizens.
“They like to see our presence,” Conoboy said. “It lets them know that we take this seriously.”