Earlier today, one of the more popular amateur radio operators in Chicago, Illinois, was heard conversing on the Chicago FM Club UHF amateur (ham radio) repeater system (443.750Mhz), when he openly stated that he routinely "hides and peeks around local street corners" then saying this: "I have a cell phone, ya know, and I call 911 for the neighborhood watch, we help the police and they appreciate it. We have a cellular phone network. We patrol and sneak around, we follow people around to see what they're doing, and then we call the police when they commit a crime."
The radio op is not being named to protect his safety.
1. Following people around creates BIG problems!! According to Illinois Law, said operator admitted to placing people under unlawful surveillance, hence,
(720 ILCS 5/12-7.3)
(from Ch. 38, par. 12-7.3)
(a-3) A person commits stalking when he or she, knowingly and without lawful justification, on at least 2 separate occasions follows another person or places the person under surveillance or any combination thereof
2. When people do this, the police oftentimes find that the cases they worked so hard on end up getting dismissed due to the stupidity of their so-called "supporters". This includes those 911 calls that result in arrests, all because the defense attorney finds out that some ill-informed and badly trained volunteer from "neighborhood watch" did something such as place people under unlawful surveillance by way of following the defendant around without proper training or proper authorization.
3. The CPD beat facilitators and Court Advocacy committee has repeatedly told these neighborhood watch types about taking things too far, about placing themselves at risk they don't need to take, and about the impact it has on various cases the police are actively working on. Too many times we walk into the court room just to find that the ASA, the arresting officer, and others involved in the case have had their time wasted in the court room because the defense attorney did his homework and found out that the neighborhood watch screwed everything up by acting outside of their simple task of only being a set of eyes and ears.
When we have to explain to the victim and their family that their offender is going free because neighborhood watch screwed up, we ALL look bad! Each time someone is arrested, the system goes into debt, because that 911 call costs money, the response costs money, the paperwork costs money, the paperwork processing costs money, locking up the defendant costs money, the court proceedings cost money for the work done by the ASA, the Judge, the Court Reporter, the Sheriff's Department personnel who man our courtrooms, and prisoner transport costs money.
The next issue is this: neighborhood watch calling 911 for misdemeanors that fall well below the priority level CPD is currently functioning at! STOP Calling 911 for STUPID things and start worrying about the bigger felony problems such as felony violence (things like shootings, attempted murder, armed robbery, felony gang crimes, felony narcotics offenses that involve a huge dealing operation or involve weapons, human trafficking, and those sorts of things)
Calling 911 because someone is black or hispanic, or a group of young people who are non-white but not doing anything more than simply existing is a HUGE problem with CPD neighborhood watch, and the operator being referred to has been guilty of making these sorts of calls.
The things that neighborhood watch calls in as "suspicious" are usually things that no one else in a reasonable frame of mind would even associate with suspicious activity. Examples of some of the sillier things that get called in by neighborhood watch: a black guy pulls out a pack of smokes and grabs one for his friend, hands it to him, and all of a sudden the watch folks think it's a "drug deal", then there's the car with a couple people sitting in it waiting for a friend to come out from their house so they can go grab a bite to eat together, and the parent at the park with their kid who has a facial disfigurement, or the gender non-conforming person whose only crime is being gender non-conforming and being out in public going from point - A to point - B. There's also the calls made about people the watch folks don't particularly like, so they make something up and call 911. How about the innocent diabetic community member who is only guilty of taking his/her insulin injection in public, but to the watch folks, they're a drug abuser until proven otherwise.
Oh, can't forget the calls made to 911 about a metally ill community resident who hasn't done anything wrong except to go out in public, but no, neighborhood watch can't have that, they have to call this innocent person in and make sure they hassle them simply for being mentally ill. GET A CLUE: The mentally ill are more likely to be a VICTIM than an offender!!
Nice set of values at CPD neighborhood watch, huh?
Court Advocacy has its own problems such as Court Advocates not paying attention to violent felony offenses, and opting to go to misdemeanor court instead to deal with petty quality of life crap. This problem is widespread through CPD, and someone at 35th street needs to start getting on top of this. Victims of violent crime, including the deceased who pass away from victimization, and their families are going without the support they need because Court Advocacy is too busy paying attention to less important things.
The bottom line is that you don't abuse your position of public trust, even if it IS a volunteer gig.You don't use it to judge people and discriminate, you don't use it to hassle people, you defintely don't use it to play "special agent" and follow people around with your cell phone at the ready to call 911 when you have no clue what you're looking at!!! LOOK, LISTEN, and THINK before you call in someone and cause them all sorts of unneeded trouble. Would be nice to see some of these over-the-top watch people get charged with false calls to 911 sometimes.