UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — A Ukrainian Village CAPS coordinator is encouraging neighbors to form block clubs in response to recent crime.
Nancy Arroyo, a community coordinator for CAPS, the Chicago Police Department’s community policing organization, said the block clubs are part of a strategy to galvanize neighbors to collectively keep an eye on their blocks.
Arroyo shared her tips on forming a block club with neighbors at a recent Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association meeting. While block clubs cannot prevent all crime, setting up block club tools like phone trees can be helpful to provide information after a crime has occurred, Arroyo said.
For example, neighbors on the third floor of a building on one end of the block will have a different view than neighbors on the ground floor at the other end, Arroyo said.
This isn’t the first time local police officials have advised neighbors to form block clubs. After a spate of shootings in West Town last year, officer Luis Crespo, a coordinator with the 12th District CAPS office, encouraged neighbors to create block clubs and phone trees.
Watching out for and stopping potential crime isn’t the only role of a formal block club, Arroyo said. The CAPS office has helped neighbors form block clubs dedicated to activities like gardening or walking, too.
Block clubs were created by the Chicago Urban League in the early 1900s, according to Amanda Seligman, author of “Chicago’s Block Clubs: How Neighbors Shape the City.” The clubs would unite longtime Black Chicagoans with newcomers from the South during the Great Migration.
Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block, My Hood, My City, has spent the past few years working to get people more involved in their neighborhood block clubs — from helping them repaint and re-message outdated and negative signs, to encouraging community cleanups and gardens.
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