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Private security patrols are coming to Chicago’s Fulton Market district

CHICAGO (CBS) — Anyone who has recently had a night out in the Fulton Market or West Loop areas may have noticed private security patrolling the streets.

Neighborhood groups have pushed for such a measure, but say they have not hired private security.

The Fulton Market District remains busy day and night. Longtime resident Rick White can see a lot from his balcony on Randolph Street.

“Look around — the restaurants, the activity, the atmosphere,” White said. “It’s a wonderful place.”

Recently, however, White has noticed something else stirring in the neighborhood.

“You know, I was just sitting here doing something. I saw the car — and it had green lights on the top,” White said. “I said, that’s interesting> I thought it was city service or something.”

But upon closer inspection, he and others in Fulton Market discovered it was the private security firm patrolling.

“My first thought was — well, you know, we’d like to have more police officers here on a regular basis,” White said. “I don’t think Chicago has enough police to do that in every neighborhood.”

CBS 2 is told a new developer is paying for security to patrol the West Loop.

“You have to ask yourself – what are they doing and what are they allowed to do?” White said.

Roger Romanelli, executive director of the Fulton Market Association, said he understands there are a lot of limits to the role and powers of wardens.

“These private security guards, as I understand it, cannot carry weapons in public – and they are not authorized to arrest people or detain people,” he said.

That leaves Romanelli wondering why now and why not get additional Chicago PD resources?

“But we still need to answer the fundamental question of how are people’s taxes now being used to make our city safe?” Romanelli said. “And to be honest, we can’t get an answer.”

Romanelli said the Fulton Market District brings in millions of dollars in tax revenue — and he wants a share of the Tax Increment Financing District, or TIF, dollars used to install Chicago Police cameras.

“So, you know, we need to get back to the basics of how we prevent crime, and this private security is certainly something that could help,” Romanelli said. “But to really address the fundamental issues — that’s what we need to do.”

“This is not a high-crime neighborhood. Obviously, they have to go where the crime is,” White added, “but still, things happen here — and I’d feel better if it was a private security company working with the police. “