The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

New ordinance by Chicago City Council aims to keep students safe

The Chicago City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday, Sept. 11, to ensure the safety of students and other passengers riding Chicago Transit Authority trains and buses.

The public safety ordinance, proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Pat Dowell, includes new public transportation safety zones and higher penalties for gun-related offenses.

Similar to the school safety zone ordinance, which was recently passed in June for the security of school children, the public safety ordinance is geared toward protecting CTA passengers, including students, against assault weapons.

“We recently strengthened the law to create school safety zones and increase protections for students who walk to school, and we are now proposing to strengthen the law to protect riders of buses and trains, especially the many students who rely on the CTA as a key mode of transportation,” Emanuel said.

The public transportation safety zones account for publicly funded buses, trains or any other means of transportation operated by a transportation authority. They also include areas within 100 feet of buildings owned by a public transportation authority, a bus shelter or signs indicating a bus stop.

According to the ordinance, anyone found bearing an illegal gun or any dangerous weapon within these safety zones could be facing increased fines and jail time. The convicted would face a $1,000 to $5,000 fine and 120 days to six months in jail for carrying an assault weapon, high capacity magazines, or a silencer/laser sight accessory for a firearm. Second time offenders would be fined $5,000 to $15,000 with 150 days to six months jail time. Third time offenders could face a mandatory six months in jail and a fine of $10,000 to $20,000.

However, offenders convicted of carrying a dangerous weapon other than a firearm will face up to 30 days to six months in jail, and a $500 to $1,000 fine. Repeated convictions can lead to a maximum of six months of jail time and fines starting at $2,000 and increasing to $5,000.

Although the new ordinance promotes a safer environment for students and other CTA passengers, some feel like the fines and increased penalties are not enough.

Law student Eric Langston said increased communication between CTA officials and law enforcement during the time of the offense would be more effective in stopping the crime from occurring and repeating.

“What would be more useful is if the city allowed for more direct communication and reporting to occur,” Langston said.

Nevertheless, Dowell hopes that the ordinance will decrease the onset of violence and assure the protection of students who ride the CTA buses and trains.

“We are sending the message that we will not tolerate any violence around our students,” Dowell said. “Regardless of how they get to school or other activities, students should feel safe.”

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