Today, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy announced the release of Safe Passage routes that are part of the District’s mission to get welcoming school students to and from school safely beginning on the first day – Monday, August 26.
These routes were designated by the CPD after months of collaboration with parents, principals, and community members. Maps of the Safe Passage routes are now available for viewing at www.cps.edu/safepassage, and a copy of each school’s specific route will be mailed to all welcoming school families beginning next week.
“Our children should be worried about their studies, not their safety, as they walk to and from school,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett. “Our welcoming school Safe Passage routes are the result of the kind of collaboration and community involvement our children and schools deserve, with months of thoughtful and deliberative planning among school principals, teachers, students, families, community members, and our partners at CPD.”
Before designating them for Safe Passage, members of the CPD walked the routes to identify potential safety hazards, including cracked sidewalks, busy intersections and known neighborhood conflicts. Additionally, Chicago’s Department of Buildings (DOB) has investigated over 1,000 reports of vacant buildings along these routes, and the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) has addressed more than 25,000 potential safety issues like abandoned vehicles, graffiti and overgrown lots.
“While police citywide have been focused on building a strong partnership with the communities we serve, those efforts are even stronger along the new Safe Passage routes, because we all have a role to play in public safety,” said CPD Superintendent Gary McCarthy. “Our CAPS officers have gone door to door on more than 500 blocks near Safe Passage routes to engage residents in the program, and already more than 1,800 residents are working with us to ensure there is a positive adult presence near the routes, not just on the routes.”
Beginning on August 26, Safe Passage routes will be monitored in the morning and afternoon by community workers who know their neighborhoods well and who will receive specialized training on how to keep students safe. They will be a consistent presence along the routes and will stay in regular contact with the CPD and welcoming school principals.
Safe Passage currently serves thousands of students in around 40 CPS schools, and has resulted in a nearly 20 percent decrease in crime near these schools over the past two years. Earlier this year, the program was expanded by $7.7 million to include all welcoming schools – an investment that will add 600 additional workers to the new routes.
To view the new Safe Passage routes for welcoming schools, visit www.cps.edu/safepassage.