Two local aldermen and 19th District Police Commander Marc Buslik this week asked the Center on Halsted (COH) to draw up a new security plan for their review, according to a government source.
The move comes after CWB Chicago reported that police officers, tipped off that a theft suspect had fled into the sprawling LGBTQ community center at 3656 North Halsted, were blocked by COH staff members who told the cops to “get a warrant.”
Buslik, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney, and 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman met with Center on Halsted board members this week to discuss the incident, the source said.
An additional security guard has been brought in by the Center to complement the one officer who currently patrols their facility.
Not clear from the information we received is how the Center on Halsted will conduct itself when police officers, acting on reliable information, believe a wanted person is taking refuge in the complex.
COH Director of Public Relations Peter Johnson did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment about developments. An auto-reply stated that COH Chief Executive Officer Modesto “Tico” Valle is out of the office until tomorrow.
Alderman Tunney, his Chief of Staff Bennett Lawson, and his Director of Public Safety and Community Affairs Chris Jessup did not immediately reply to our email.
There is good news coming out of the Center on Halsted.
After long misleading the community about its failure to appear in court to confront offenders who are arrested at the Center’s request, the COH is on the right track.
CWB Chicago reported on November 17 that COH failed to appear in court for 25 out of 26 cases in which the Center or its employees were identified as victims.
CWB researchers found the only case in which the COH did show up for court was in 2013 when the victim was its CEO, “Tico” Valle.
Those findings were in sharp contrast to public statements made by COH spokesman Johnson at local community policing meetings. As we reported in November:.
“If anybody does commit a crime, we prosecute,” Johnson told the crowd. “We always send a representative to court when we file [criminal charges]”
Our findings also conflicted with statements that Center executives gave to at least one local businessman:
“I’ve spoken to ‘Tico’ Valle about this,” Stu Zirin offered.”He said they do go to court. You know, if it’s something serious.”
Days after our November report, the Center had a closed-door meeting with local officials during which they agreed to show up in court, according to a source.
And so far, so good.
COH reps have been in court for all five cases in which the Center or its staff were identified as victims since our report.
Four cases were resolved with guilty pleas. The fifth is on-going after the defendant initially failed to appear: