Austin activist Bennie Meeks will join other active Chicago seniors in the city’s Senior Citizen Hall of Fame. The honor is given out each year to a dedicated senior nominated for their community service. Meeks, 72, was named to the Hall of Fame for 28th Ward, which covers Austin. He has been married for 49 years, has two children and seven grandchildren. The following letter is from the South Austin Coalition, which Meeks has been a longtime member and leader.

Ask anyone in Chicago law enforcement or community policing who the most effective and influential community leader has been in the struggle to combat crime, drugs and violence, and the name of Bennie Meeks is sure to come up. Mr. Meeks was a strong early advocate in bringing community policing to Chicago. As chair of the South Austin Coalition in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mr. Meeks spearheaded community partnerships with the Austin Police District and other law enforcement entities. Those collaborations led to policy victories, including the Nuisance Abatement Program to seize drug houses, the campaign to make vehicle temporary stickers more traceable for witnesses and law enforcement, and the development of citizen leaders as facilitators to chair beat meetings.

During these years, Mr. Meeks received local recognition and national acclaim, culminating in an award presented by then President George H. Bush at the White House.

Innovative efforts by Mr. Meeks were instrumental in the Austin police district being selected as one of first pilot districts for the community policing/CAPS program. Since 1993, Mr. Meeks has been the facilitator for Beat 1532. Through Mr. Meeks’ charisma and knowledge, Beat 1532 consistently scores highest of any Austin Beat in attendance and effectiveness. He is also an original member of the Austin CAPS District Advisory Committee. Mr. Meeks is highly respected as a confidant and street savvy leader, whose input and advice are often sought out by law enforcement and legislators.

South Austin Coalition