Categories & Search ↓

Staying Safe in the City By Melissa Simmons, graduate assistant, Office of Student Experience

TextPoliceLast week during my usual evening commute on the CTA Blue Line, the car I was sitting in contained an unusual man. Rush hour commuters generally keep to themselves. Some engulfed in the bass of their studio headphones, taken to a peaceful oasis compliments of an e-reader, or uploading the newest filter-heavy profile pic.

The aforementioned man hadn’t seemed to get the memo. He couldn’t seem to stand still as he paced back in forth between passengers and the door entryway. He attempted to holler a message to his uninterested audience over the railway clatter. Then he blew an obnoxiously loud whistle.

Although I didn’t find myself in any immediate danger, with the recent deadly Red Line stabbing I wasn’t taking any chances and my “Spidey senses” were more than just tingling at this point.

I looked around. Darn. I was nowhere near the emergency button. I snapped a pic of the potential “perp” ready to send to as evidence. Darn. I didn’t know the emergency text number. Just as I was looking up an emergency number to send it to, the erratic man got off the train. I felt an internal sigh of relief. The women next to me praised his exit with a celebratory, “Thank goodness that creep is gone.”

Their reaction reassured my uneasiness, but it made me wonder:

With so many festivals and events in the city this summer, what’s the appropriate way to react to a safety concern, without overreacting?

  1. The CTA recommends for patrons to move to another car or exit at the next station platform if immediate safety is jeopardized. A Rail Customer Service Assistant is on duty at all times and available to assist in the event of a crime or something suspicious.
  2. While attending events with large crowds set a meeting place for you and your friends in case you get split up.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and anyone acting suspicious or unattended bags lingering around.
  4. Make sure your phone battery is fully charged. Onsite vendors have begun to include free charging stations.
  5. As the sun goes down, if you have concerns about your safety find a well-lit area. Staff tents are usually very welcoming.

For immediate danger you can text to 274637, which will go directly to the Chicago Police Department.

While writing this essay, the news covered a story about how most major cities like Miami, Atlanta and LA don’t have the option to text 911. While they are working to get an emergency number to function in most cities, for now they advise those with access to a texting option, “Call if you can, text if you can’t.”