Meetings aim to provide link between residents, police in Niles
Officer Anthony Scipione and Inspector Mark Blickhahn lead the discussion Oct. 30 at the Nordica Street Beat Meeting in Niles. | Jon Durr~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 7, 2013 1:43AM
NILES — Niles Police Officer Anthony Scipione smiled at the handful of residents attending the October Nordica Avenue beat meeting and said, “I promised you’d have some change.”
Scipione told the group gathered Oct. 30 at the Niles Police Department that the village passed an ordinance to create 64 new parking spots between two apartment buildings on Nordica Avenue with the hope of freeing up more parking spaces for area townhouse owners.
Scipione said parking has been an issue in that area for 25 years, so he was thrilled to give the residents positive news about it. He said another positive effect of the ordinance may be clearer streets for maintenance and snow plowing.
Conveying the residents’ concerns to Niles officials is Scipione’s job as the liaison between the residents of Nordica Avenue and the village.
The village holds monthly meetings for certain neighborhoods, including Nordica and Washington/Lyons streets.
“The goal is to improve the relationship between the residents of a beat and the village officials,” Scipione said.
Inspector Mark Blickhahn of the Niles Community Development Department also attended the Oct. 30 beat meeting.
Scipione puts fliers on vehicles in the neighborhoods to encourage residents to come to the beat meetings to talk about their concerns regarding criminal and quality of life issues.
“It’s a super-rewarding experience” to help solve various residential issues, Scipione said.
“They’re very good,” Mary Demas, who lives in the neighborhood, said about the beat meetings. “They keep you informed of what’s going on in your neighborhood.”
Demas, who has been coming to the Nordica Avenue beat meetings for six months, has expressed concerns about it being too dark near the corner of Nordica and Birchwood. She suggested a light pole to make it brighter and safer. Scipione assured her that the village is looking to address the issue.
Demas also said a resident doesn’t leave a lid on the garbage can, and on windy days garbage is flying everywhere. Scipione said the village tries to be lenient about the hours residents can put out garbage, because it may be more difficult for those who work night shifts. He said they often give out warnings before tickets for certain problems.
“We’re here to educate,” he said. “We’re not here to just give tickets to everybody.”
Scipione said often people may be afraid of police officers and the beat meeting allow officers and residents to interact in a positive environment.
“They’re very nice,” Gerald Babiez said of the meetings. “I would like to see more people here.”
“It’s good to see newcomers,” Scipione added.
Scipione said on average about 10 people attend the monthly beat meetings, but noted he also regularly communicates with residents through emails.
At the Oct. 30 meeting, Scipione said with the holidays coming up residential and vehicle burglaries will likely increase. He advised people to remove GPS systems from their dashboard before leaving vehicles and to never leave purses in shopping carts at stores.
He also said if someone is going to put a purse in a vehicle’s trunk, they should do that at home and not in a parking lot where someone could be watching.
“Just be diligent out there,” urged Scipione.