Berscott Ruiz is new Tenth Police Distict commander
September 4, 2009

By David Warren | September 2009

10th District Commander Berscott Ruiz goes over the duty roster with Police Officer Emily De Jesus. (Photo by Troy T Heinzeroth)
The Tenth Chicago Police District has new leadership in Commander Berscott Ruiz. Formerly tactical lieutenant in the district, Ruiz is looking to address both the rash of burglaries and the gang violence that have plagued the district.

The Tenth District encompasses the area between Roosevelt Road on the north and the Sanitary and Ship Canal on the south and from the city limits where Chicago borders Cicero, IL, on the west to Western Avenue north of Cermak Road and Ashland Avenue south of Cermak on the East.

Ruiz was reared in Chicago and holds degrees in criminal justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago, criminal social science from Lewis University, and electrical engineering from DeVry University. He has been a detective, sergeant, and then lieutenant for the Chicago Police Department, although he worked briefly in California as well.

Ruiz said unequivocally that gangs represent the greatest threat to the district, noting “some of their conflicts are historic.” He explained some major differences among gangs, saying that in “the Hispanic gangs, their conflict is within the gang itself, or over territory. The African American gangs fight over drug spots, and if another gang isn’t trying to take over then there is peace.” Dealing with each requires different tactics and complicates police work, Ruiz said.

The district’s other major concern is the rise of burglaries. Ruiz is proud of the progress police already have made, combating robberies by focusing on a high-incidence area in the district “with a four-man robbery team,” he said. The team works directly with the detective division and is learning to pick up on certain tips and clues. The team has been together for about a month and already has made several arrests. Ruiz is aware of the challenges he faces.

Compared to the other districts he has worked in–the 13th and 14th–the tenth is certainly the “busiest” he said. Part of what keeps him on his toes is the 5% rise in shootings over the last year, though the number of homicides is down.

In combating shootings, Ruiz said they are not just recording numbers. “We do an analysis for our district and pinpoint the exact area. [Then] we flood an area, but what we find is, after we evaluate, they move away from the area where we used our resources. They know we are there.”

Keeping the district safe is not entirely up to the police, or at least it does not begin with them, according to Ruiz. The job belongs partly the community, whose members are “the eyes and ears of the police. They live it. The way they alert us is by calling us. If you don’t call us, we are going to think there is no problem. They can always call anonymously,” he said. Those who wish to remain anonymous do not have to provide their name to the switchboard operator.

Inviting the community to help the police and organizing units to work with each other is part of Ruiz’s main tactic for the Tenth. Also, “We make sure everyone knows what is going on. Gang enforcement gathers intelligence, [which is] disseminated throughout the district and department. We do our analysis, and then we send them out to our watches so they also can concentrate on it,” he said.

Ruiz is confident that even this busy community can become safer. Violence is a pressing issue, but “I believe it will get better if we continue to [be active and pursue] the gangs within the laws we have now and keep coming up with guns,” he said. “Every gun off the street is one less chance [for violent behavior].”

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