Cops: Effort to curb Sullivan High School violence a success

Officials say an effort to cut down on violence at Sullivan High School in Rogers Park is having an impact.

In response to an uptick in gang-related incidents, police and school officials recently began meeting to deal with the situation.

They arrived at a series of solutions.

One calls for the school to use multiple exits at dismissal time, which allows students to disperse more quickly.

The school has also started requiring suspended students to sign an agreement saying that if they come within 1000 feet of the campus, they can be arrested for trespassing. 

“We need a full dimensional response,” says David Sobczyk, commander of the 24th Police District, which includes the school. “It has to be beyond the police responding after the fact or in large numbers to dissuade violence whatever the school security can do to help prevent violence should be done.” 

According to EveryBlock Chicago, there were 47 reported crimes in the three blocks surrounding the school during March. During the same month last year, there were 58.

Sobczyk says since the changes, there has been “Less fighting, less arrests, less (violent) incidents"

He says the suspension measure has been effective in reducing violence.

"The kids on suspension don't come back to school anymore to start trouble "

Principal Joseph Atria agrees.

"Both the suspension and dismissal measures are working well. Since their implementation, dismissal has been a lot smoother,” he says.

Both Atria and Sobcyck emphasize that the violent incidents are caused by small percentage of students.  

“We are talking about a small minority of students, the vast majority of students are trying to get an education and follow the rules,” says Sobcyzk. 

Maria Rangel, 17, a junior, says  she thinks the suspension policy will keep troublemakers at bay.

“They will be a couple blocks away they could meet up with their people over there, not over here,” where they can disrupt students, she says.

But Christopher Chaudhary, 16, a sophomore, is planning on transferring to Truman Middle College partly due to the constant fights he witnesses.   Overall, Chaudhary says he feels safe attending Sullivan, but is dubious of the new policies.

The staggered dismissals are “basically … just an inconvenience,” he says.

He adds that the emphasis should be on a more stringent policy for expelling students that continually cause trouble at the school.