South Side alderman says Chicago is in ‘state of emergency’ with uptick in carjackings

“Any time one of us, an Englewood resident, is carjacked and held at gunpoint on Christmas morning, we know that it is time for us to come together and find some solutions as it relates to public safety,” Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th) said during a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday.

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Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th)

Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th)

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

As Chicago continues to grapple with a surge in violent carjackings, Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th) on Tuesday night urged her South Side constituency to remain aware of their surroundings and heed advice from police, declaring that the city was in “a state of emergency.”

“We know about COVID-19, but there’s also another pandemic that’s affecting our communities, and we all know what that is,” Coleman said during a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday with four other aldermen, the Englewood police district commander and other city officials.

“Any time one of us, an Englewood resident, is carjacked and held at gunpoint on Christmas morning, we know that it is time for us to come together and find some solutions as it relates to public safety.”

Rodney Hill, the new commander of the Englewood district, noted that only two vehicular hijackings were reported in the district in the last four weeks but told the meeting attendees: “We, as citizens, have got to do a little bit more to protect ourselves.”

Hill urged Englewood residents to listen to their instincts and keep an eye out for young males driving vehicles that they likely do not own.

“We can definitely say something about what’s going on,” Hill said. “If you see something, if you see a kid in your neighborhood and you know he doesn’t have a car and you know his parents didn’t buy him a car, then call the police so we can follow up on that.”

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said last week that there had been 144 carjackings since the beginning of the year.

The skyrocketing figure from the first three weeks of 2021 comes after the number of carjackings more than doubled to 1,417 carjackings in 2020.

Coleman was particularly concerned at women being targeted as carjacking victims, and she noted that local businesses have recently launched “Operation Safe Pump,” a program in which volunteers monitor gas station parking lots to ensure no one is victimized while at the pump.

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