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EDITORIAL: Safe Passage — a smart move in crime-fighting

A University of Illinois study found that crime fell by an average of 14% in areas around Safe Passage schools.

A Safe Passage worker near Roberto Clemente High directs students on the first day of school in September 2014.
In this 2014 photo, a Safe Passage worker directs students on the first day of school at Roberto Clemente High.
Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

As Chicago looks high and low for ways to curb violent crime, it’s worth pointing out that simple solutions can make a real impact on complex problems.

Take the Chicago Public Schools’ Safe Passage program. It’s simple, it’s helped keep kids out of trouble — and it’s turning out to be a pretty effective crime deterrent too, according to a new study.

CPS launched Safe Passage in 2009, hiring adults who know the community best — parents, grandparents, long-time residents — to patrol designated streets before and after school and keep children out of trouble and safe on the walk to and from home.

Since it was launched, as WBEZ first reported based on a recent University of Illinois study, violent crime in designated Safe Passage areas has fallen by an average of 14%. The “deterrent effect” lasted for two to three hours after workers’ shifts were over.

Let’s hope the deterrent effect is in full force when workers patrol this summer around 40 parks to keep kids safe.

If so, it will be another sign that Safe Passage is a smart investment.

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