Resident discuss safety at meeting




by BRIAN NADIG

Residents asked how they can make their neighborhood safer and if there are enough officers patrolling the area at a March 17 beat meeting following a reported drug-related shooting in Gladstone Park.

About 50 people attended the Beat 1611 meeting at Saint Thecla Church, 6725 W. Devon Ave. The beat in the 16th (Jefferson Park) District includes parts of Gladstone Park, Norwood Park and Edison Park.

"We’re frustrated," a woman said at the meeting. "We don’t know who to turn to."

Police officials at the meeting said that the number of patrol officers in the district has been about 200 for the past several years. In 2001 there were about 270 officers on patrol, but since then, gang tactical units have been centralized and the Chicago Police Department has deployed more resources to the most violent areas of the city.

16th District commander William Looney said that the district is doing the best it can and that officers regularly make good arrests. "There’s a reason why we don’t have more police," Looney said. "Most of our crimes are property. We don’t want violent crime."

Community policing sergeant Sherry Alvarez-Pena said that residents can contact her office about forming blocks clubs to keep neighbors informed about crime patterns.

"We have incidents where people have seen some sort of suspicious behavior at a neighbor’s and they don’t call it in," Alvarez-Pena said. "If it is suspicious, you’re not wasting our time."

Alvarez-Pena said that callers should stay on the line with the 911 operator until officers arrive at the scene in case more details are needed to find offenders.

It was reported at the meeting that police raided a home in the 6000 block of North Elston Avenue after a masked man reportedly shot another man who had been standing near the house on March 6. Numerous shots were fired, according to police.

A woman drove the injured man, who had been shot in the leg, to the parking lot at McDonald’s restaurant, 6125 N. Milwaukee Ave. Responding officers found about $25,000 in cash inside the car and 42 grams of suspected marijuana in a garbage can in the parking lot, police said.

The man and the woman were believed to have been visiting the house on Elston, according to police. Residents reported that tenants of the house appeared to be moving out after the raid.

It also was reported that the number of thefts in the beat between Jan. 22 and March 17 was 27, compared to nine during the same period last year, the number of vehicle thefts was six (with none last year), and the number of burglaries was 15 (with six last year). Several of the thefts were related to one business, and arrests were made in connection with those incidents, Looney said.

Also at the meeting, officers warned about a recent scam in which an elderly person receives a call from someone pretending to be their grandchild who needs money. In some instances the victims are convinced to buy gift cards and give the information on the card to the caller.

Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) announced last week that he is forming a social media neighborhood watch called "Watch 41." Community alerts and crime statistics will be available through the Facebook group.

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