Staying Street Smart

Some Street-Smart Basics

  1. Buy and carry a personal attack alarm if you run errands, work, or attend class at night. Survey your surroundings when exiting buildings and ensure nobody is following you to your vehicle.
  2. Keep your cell phone and keys in your front pockets; do not stop a thief from taking your purse. If you wrestle them for it, you could injure yourself.
  3. If someone is following you do not proceed to your car. Cross the street and proceed to the nearest populated location where you can call for help.
  4. Avoid taking shortcuts through unknown parts of town or in dark alleys. Change your running or jogging route every few days to ensure safety.
  5. If you are on a bus at night, sit in a row close to the driver. If you are on a train, sit in a populated car near the exit.

12 Tips for Staying Safe in Crowds

  1. Keep your hands in your pockets. Remember the golden equation for getting sick: Germ gets on hands, hands touch face, germ enters body, you get sick. Where there are crowds, there are germs— millions of them—on every surface. Don’t touch them and they won’t make you sick.
  2. Carry a bottle of hand sanitizer. Use it after porta-potty visits, before eating, and anytime you feel contaminated by the microbes of the masses.
  3. Keep a set of earplugs handy. If the event gets too loud, or you get stuck standing next to the speakers, stick ’em in your ears.
  4. Know how to get out. Look for the emergency exit signs as you enter a large venue. It takes only seconds—and those seconds could turn out to be the best you ever spent.
  5. Know the building’s capacity. Note how many people the building can safely hold (the figure should be on a sign near the front door). If you feel that number is exceeded, reduce it by one—yourself.
  6. Find a meeting spot. Arrange a place to meet your family or friends in case you get separated. Actually, you should choose two places: one inside and one outside.
  7. Keep to the wall. In the rare event of a stampede, try to move sideways to the crowd until you get to a wall. Then press yourself against it until the crowd dissipates, or you find a better exit. It doesn’t happen often, but people do get trampled to death. If you’ve memorized the emergency exits, you’ll have better luck getting to one that the rest of the crowd may not have noticed.
  8. Pack a lunch. Forestall your kids’ pleas for junk food. If you can’t avoid buying from food carts, check out the vendor. Does the cart look clean? Does he handle money and then touch the food? It’s hard to tell just by looking at it if food will make you sick, but you should definitely avoid undercooked (pink) meats and meat that is not hot when served.
  9. Carry tissue. Remember to put a wad of tissues in your purse or pocket. Now you have emergency toilet paper if you have to hit those porta-potties.
  10. Freeze your water. Put water bottles in the freezer the night before the event. You’ll save money on overpriced bottled water at the event, and as the ice melts, you’ll have nice, cold water on hand to stay hydrated.
  11. Dress in layers. You can shed one of them if you get too hot. Of course, layers work the other way too. If the temperature drops as the game goes into overtime, you’ll be prepared.
  12. Leave before the curtain call. You’ll beat the crowd, get out of the parking garage more quickly, and avoid ruining your lovely time out with an evening-ending bout of blood-pressure-raising stress.


Panhandling is any solicitation made in person in a public place for an immediate donation where there is nothing of substantial value given back for the donation. This does not include peddlers selling goods or street performers asking for donations for their entertainment services. Panhandling is protected under the 1st Amendment under free speech. The new ordinance allows panhandling but places limits on where and how it can be practiced.

When is it legal?  When is it not?

Below are a few instances where panhandling becomes an illegal act.  Please report to the police when you see folks acting in illegal acts of panhandling, and as always, the best way to stop panhandling in our community is to offer information on local services, and not money, to those asking for help.

Examples of when panhandling is illegal:

  • When within 10 feet of an ATM machine
  • When within 10 feet of a bus station
  • When in any public transportation vehicle or facility
  • When within 10 feet of an entrance to a bank or currency exchange.
  • In a sidewalk café or restaurant

**Please keep in mind, you must be willing to file a report against the individual partaking in illegal panhandling, otherwise the police cannot arrest

Note, at present, the police are not prosecuting a passive panhandler who is standing by the street with a sign/cup and only approaches a car when someone offers a donation.

It can not be practiced in a manner a reasonable person would find intimidating including any of following actions: touching a person, panhandling a person in a line waiting to be admitted to an establishment, blocking the path of a person, blocking an entrance, following behind or ahead of a person who walks away after being solicited, using profane or abusive or threatening language, or using threatening gestures, panhandling in a group of two or more persons.

If you experience aggressive panhandling, you should call 911 immediately to stop the problem right away. Do not give panhandlers money; it is better to give to charities that give meals to people in need. Some charities have cards for a free lunch that you can hand out to a panhandler.

If you have an area that is not now designated a Loitering Hot Spot, you need to file complaints about this area with the police. Complaints made to the Police and your Alderman from the local community are considered when hot spots are picked. If gang members are arrested, local residents being present in court is extremely important on its impact on the judge.

Be involved in solving the problem:

  • Observe/watch for these problems and Call 911
  • Post the required signs (No Trespass)
  • File Complaints with Police
  • Make the Court Dates
  • Support Court Advocate Program

Keeping Safe While Using an ATM

Always pay close attention to the ATM and your surroundings. Don’t select an ATM at the corner of a building — corners create a blind spot. Use an ATM located near the center of a building. Do your automated banking in a public, well-lighted location that is free of shrubbery and decorative partitions or dividers.

  • Never count cash at the machine or in public. Wait until you are in your car or another secure place.
  • Closely monitor your bank statements, as well as your balances, and immediately report any problems to your bank.
  • If you are involved in a confrontation with an assailant who demands your money, COMPLY.
  • Utilize an ATM located inside an open business whenever possible.
  • Avoid using street ATMs during night time hours.