Howard Rieger, president of the Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park, agrees, touting the positive interactions he has had with the Chicago Police Department and its 24th District, which includes West Rogers Park.
Rieger, a former president and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America who moved back to his native Chicago several years ago, has done considerable work to improve the area, hiring a planner and laying out a strategy to upgrade and beautify the Devon corridor, where there were many empty storefronts, and other spots. He most recently was instrumental in creating a park at Devon Avenue and McCormick Boulevard at the site of an abandoned parking lot.
He has had nothing to do with the security patrols but is aware of them, he said. "These neighborhoods have taken this direction and they have a right to do it," he said. "But the issue from my point of view is that it be coordinated with the police. An independent force out there operating on its own is not going to be good for the neighborhood. If we can share information with the police then it can be a constructive thing."
He said his interactions with the Chicago police have been positive.
"They've been responsive to whatever we asked them," he said. "I particularly appreciate the fact that on an ongoing basis they pay special attention to the neighborhood on Shabbat and yom tovs."
During the Gaza conflict last year, the organization asked the 24th District commander to convene a meeting with agencies and synagogues in the area to discuss security. "They were very responsive to that, very knowledgeable about the neighborhood and Jewish traditions," he said.
As for the anti-Semitic incidents, "What can you think?" Rieger said. "The good news is that Jews haven't been accosted. It's out there but we have a new police commander (District Commander Roberto Nieves) and he is a sophisticated guy who will help bring up to speed in terms of being familiar with Jewish agencies and traditions. They have always been completely willing to work with us."
Noting that anti-Semitic incidents can and do happen anywhere, including Lincolnwood and Northbrook, Rieger said he hopes people outside of West Rogers Park aren't left with the impression of "oh my gosh, what is happening here?"
Jewish Child and Family Services is building a major addition to its facility in the area, the Horwich JCC is upgrading, "shuls are being built, people are building massive houses," he said. "There is a lot of good here and more good to follow. Some people are out of touch with that."
Shalom Klein, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park, said he does not endorse the security patrols and knows of no other formal organization that has become involved in the effort.
The council "doesn't really have an opinion of it," he said. "These are individual steps people are taking over and above the very wonderful cooperation we've had with the Chicago Police."
He feels satisfied with the job the Chicago Police Department is doing, Klein said, and sees Ald. Silverstein's meeting bringing together police, rabbis and community leaders "a perfect example of a public-private partnership, and that is good news. When things were going on overseas, in France, in Israel, immediately I was on the phone with Chicago police, Lincolnwood, Cook County, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI." All the agencies responded quickly, he said.