CPS Safe Passage Maps: Safety Routes For Displaced Students Released
A 600-person strong patrol staff will be dispatched along Safe Passage routes at 53 additional schools this year, joining the 35 high schools and four elementary schools with a Safe Passage program already implemented.
Safe Passage hours will vary by school and are based on bell schedules, CPS Security Chief Jadine Chou said.
During Safe Passage periods — roughly two hours before schools start and three hours after the final bell — community residents will also be asked to "come out on their porch or sidewalk" to ensure that there is a "positive adult presence on these streets, on these routes before and after school," Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said at a press conference Friday.
More than 1,800 residents have agreed to participate after community policing officers knocked on more than 500 doors on the South and West Side to spread awareness, McCarthy said.
The new Safe Passage routes were designed "after months of input from community members, teachers, principals, students, parents and police," according to a statement from CPS.
That process included walking the suggested routes to identify issues like broken streetlights and sidewalk cracks, "securing" 255 vacant buildings along Safe Passage Routes, and demolishing more than 37 buildings by Aug. 23, according to Michael Merchant, commissioner of the city's buildings department.
(Click on the interactive below to scroll through the full safe passage map released by CPS)
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she personally walked several Safe Passage routes before the final map was released Friday, and saw "lots that have debris thrown in it...buildings that have been 'Xed' and sidewalks that were cracked, et cetera," she said.
"I did not feel unsafe in the neighborhoods," the CEO said. "Maybe it's because I had a baseball cap on and jeans and people didn't know who the heck I was, but it didn't disturb me. But nevertheless I know that this is a concern for our parents. It's a concern for all the adults in the community, and we're going to ensure that those passages are safe for children."
At the press conference Friday, McCarthy said that "everybody would be accountable" if a child is harmed on a Safe Passage pathway.
"Whenever violence occurs, we take the accountability...[but] we always point out that it's a community problem and everybody needs to step up and deal with it," McCarthy said.
In June, CPS committed $7.7 million of their budget to hire 600 Safe Passage workers to escort kids through neighborhoods where they may cross gang lines to get to their new schools. Byrd-Bennett said Friday that more than 2,800 applications for the positions have been received.
Each Safe Passage worker will be required to pass a fingerprint-based background check, and will receive a single day of training on "de-escalation, relationship-building," and other skills to help them moderate conflicts, Chou said. Ongoing "on-the-job training" will augment that single session.
“Expanding the successful Safe Passage program to include next year’s welcoming schools is one of several steps we’re taking to create safe environments in and around our schools," Byrd-Bennett said in a statement while lobbying the board for funding to add 18 Safe Passage vendors in June, which nearly doubled the program operated by churches and community organizations.
The move to close a record number of Chicago schools and redirect students across gang territories immediately raised concerns among parents about student safety. In May, DNAinfo Chicago mapped the areas where new school routes forced students to cross gang lines.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel echoed parent concerns about the closures' impact on student safety.
"There's gonna be a lot of safe-passage routes for kids. Come work those," Emanuel said to the neighborhood watch group Guardian Angels when they offered to help patrol the Magnificent Mile after a rash of muggings.
Find your school's safe passage route by clicking on the links below (PDFs):