Let’s get right to it. Naperville has a lot of problems, but one specifically is roaring its ugly head in downtown Naperville. It’s called alcohol-fueled chaos, causing all kinds of mayhem, more often, and with more intensity.
Naperville’s downtown area is not large, it’s only about 20 square blocks ( 5 blocks by 4 blocks), yet this chaos/fight continued for quite some time before police arrived.
And who is responsible for this? That’s easy, it’s Naperville’s city officials including the city council, along with liquor commissioner and mayor, George Pradel, and Naperville city manager Doug Krieger. They have created an environment ripe for bad behavior.
The problem distills down to this, more people, with more access to liquor, in a small area. And it will only get worse when the high density Water Street project is completed. City officials need to have the courage to change it, and this city council doesn’t have it. Residents can only hope, after the next municipal election April 7, 2015, that true leadership emerges.
Naperville city officials had a decision to make; get big with big-time problems, or steer the city in a family-friendly direction. They chose greed over a solid game plan of reasonable growth, and now they are clueless as to what to do.
Maybe Naperville city officials could learn from New York City. In the early ’90s, Time Square deteriorated into an area or crime and violence. When Mayor Rudy Giuliani was elected in 1994, he immediately set the wheels in motion to clean up the situation, and did so in major part, by establishing a massive and impressive show of police presence, and a zero-tolerance for even an inkling of bad behavior. Police even enforced no J-walking. It worked. Time Square became a ‘shining jewel’ once again. Unfortunately, after Giuliani left office in 2001, and after 12 years of Mayor David Bloomberg, and now Bill de Blasio, Time Square is again reverting back to unwholesome activities. That shows the difference between strong leadership with a plan vs weak leadership without a plan. Right now Naperville falls in the latter category.
Using Mayor Giuliani’s plan as a template for Naperville, this is what can be done to get control of the deteriorating situation in the downtown Naperville:
- Rally behind a strong leader (Giuliani-like); this requires replacing our city manager (Doug Krieger) with a someone who knows how to lead and get things done.
- Hire a strong police chief, with active and continuous law enforcement experience, who can earn the trust and confidence of residents and members of the police department. Naperville’s police chief’s most recent experience was that of assistant city manager. Naperville needs a police chief who is proud to be defined as a current and legitimate police officer.
- Immediately cap the number of liquor licenses in the downtown area, with the goal of gradually reducing that number.
- Immediately shorten the liquor-serving hours by one hour with the option to shorten it by two hours if necessary.
- Establishing a ‘nuclear option’ to ‘pull’ a liquor license for repeat offenders (establishments) contributing to alcohol-fueled chaos and mayhem involving police-related enforcement.
- Immediately increasing and maintaining a huge police presence distributed equally throughout the entire downtown area.
Just as retail store security cameras are positioned throughout the store to observe every inch of selling space, police need to be stationed and patrol all areas of the downtown so that at all times every block has at least one set of eyes watching for ‘situations’ to arise. By doing so, if a situation is ignited, it can be extinguished within seconds and not allowed to escalate or continue as seen in the above videos.
The Naperville city council has three choices, 1) continue to do too little, too late and allow things to get worse, 2) have the courage to make the necessary changes, or 3) get voted out of office and let the next city council deal with it.