CHICAGO (CBS) — Data shows carjackings are down in Chicago, as volunteers with the Community First Safe Pump Initiative have been guarding the same gas stations every Saturday morning this year.
CBS 2’s Marissa Parra digs into the numbers, and shows how arrests and awareness might be key.
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“I drove up hoping I would see someone, and now I see a whole bunch of people,” said Carol Ika President as she was getting gas at a BP station in Hyde Park.
For 13 weeks, rain or shine, people have been turning out at gas stations as protectors of the pumps.
“This is my day off,” said one volunteer, named Melissa.
On her day off, she donned the yellow vest with Community First Safe Pump Initiative
“We’re proud to say, after 13 weeks, we’ve made a difference,” said organizer Steven DeJoie.
Carjackings – while still higher than average – are indeed down since January, according to the Chicago Police Department data portal.
Compare over 200 carjackings in the first month of the year, down to roughly 80 last month.
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While there’s more arrests being made by Chicago Police, Melissa said she thinks extra eyes from violence interrupters have been key, too.
“The people are more relaxed, and not so up with their shoulders, they’re not on guard,” she said. “They’re kind of strolling in and out.”
“It definitely gives you a sense of security,” Asya Taylor said. “To feel empowered and safe with people who look just like us.”
“I was carjacked in January. I’m trying not to walk with fear, but just the fear of where do I go to get gas,” Carol Ika President said.
With the rate of carjackings easing in the city, don’t count on DeJoie to be taking it easy any time soon. He said he’s here for the long haul.
“We are looking forward to the day when we can spend our Saturday mornings sleeping at home, but right now, I think with the weather getting warm, and the city in such a turbulent time, we’re only going to see more activity, so we’ll be here,” he said.
You’ll still see Saturday morning volunteers at the BP station off of 52nd Street and Lake Park Avenue and other South Side locations. This weekend, they were joined by the group Readi, but DeJoie said they’d like to expand their program even further.
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If you’d like to volunteer, you can send an email to [email protected]