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Scruff McGruff for Vacants: Safety the Aim in New Ordinance

by Chicago Agent

In a measure that would make Scruff McGruff proud, a new city ordinance would post guards outside vacants near public schools.

In an effort to promote safety, force accountability and take a hefty bite out of crime, Chicago City Council members are considering an ordinance that would force owners of vacant properties within 1,000 yards of public schools to post guards at the homes.

The ordinance has come about because many of the vacant properties are havens for criminal activity. The Chicago Tribune highlighted a number of homes by George Leland Elementary School that are used by drug dealers and dog fighters.

Also supported by the Chicago Teachers Union, the ordinance would fine owners of five or more properties up to $1,000 per violation. They would be required to post guards outside the vacant properties during the day to protect children commuting to school.

Bonita Robinson, a former teacher, said the ordinance is necessary to foster a strong learning environment for kids.

“These are brilliant children in these areas,” Robinson said, “but they don’t have the supports built in.”

Becky Carroll, a spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools, said school administrators had not yet reviewed the ordinance, though they are planning a $10 million investment in the Safe Passage program and a greater investment in security cameras.

“Providing safe passage for our students to and from school is a top priority for CPS,” she said.

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