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Proposal would up fines by $3,000 for having guns or drugs near schools

Updated: January 10, 2012 8:23AM

Chicago aldermen moved Thursday to create a protective bubble around schools and parks — by dramatically increasing the fines for gang, drug and gun offenses in those areas.

The City Council’s Public Safety Committee approved an ordinance that would impose a new $3,000 fine against anyone convicted of gang loitering, narcotics-related loitering or weapons violations within 500 feet of a school, park or recreational field.

The $3,000 fine would be in addition to the existing penalties for those offenses: $500 for each violation and up to six months in jail.

“The purpose of this ordinance is to protect the children and deter gang, drug and weapon offenses on or near school and park property,” said Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th).

“Simply put, this is gonna add an additional fine on folks that tend to do any harm [on] or within 500 feet of the sites I just mentioned.”

The new fines come as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration lobbies Gov. Pat Quinn to sign a bill authorizing Chicago to use red-light cameras and cameras concealed in vans to catch motorists who speed near schools and parks.

The crackdown is expected to begin in late summer at 79 red-light camera intersections within one-eighth of a mile of schools and parks. An undisclosed number of other schools would also be protected by cameras concealed in vans, officials said.

Tickets carrying graduated fines depending on the speed — up to $100 — would be automatically mailed to the license plate holder of any vehicle travelling over five miles above the posted speed limit.

The crackdown would follow a 30-day break-in period when warning tickets would be issued.

Emanuel has insisted that speed cameras are about protecting children — not raising revenue — despite concern that their reach would extend to nearly half the city and turn into a cash cow like red-light cameras.

The bill on the governor’s desk would allow cameras around schools to function between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Cameras on streets near parks could operate an hour before parks open until one hour after they close.

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