Crime concerns take center stage at Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association meeting
by BRIAN NADIG
Concerns about gunfire on area side streets took center stage at the Nov. 29 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.
Several residents expressed concerns about gang and other suspicious activity, including drug dealing, at Roberts Square Park, 5200 W. Argyle St., and near Beaubien School, 5025 N. Laramie Ave. Since September there has been a gang-related shooting near the park and several incidents of gunfire along Winnemac Avenue or West Argyle Street.
“I’m beginning to see a pattern I’ve never seen before (in this neighborhood), and I don’t like it,” an area resident said.
“We are calling 911 at least half dozen times (and told) we’ll send a car. It never came,” another resident said.
16th (Jefferson Park) District captain Felipe Reyes said that in recent weeks extra patrols and other resources have been assigned to the neighborhood. “You’ll see the unmarked cars driving around the area,” he said, adding that he often drives through the area when leaving the near district station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave.
In addition, a community policing officer periodically walks through the park.
There are indications some of the incidents may be isolated and not related to the others, according to police.
Gunfire between two vehicles that resulted in spent shell casings being found in the 4800 blocks of West Argyle Street and and West Winnemac Avenue on Sunday, Nov. 26, may be spillover from an incident on North Cicero Avenue, Reyes said.
Reyes also reported that a car believed to have been involved in the gunfire that occurred in the 5000 block of Winnemac on Saturday, Nov. 11, was found in the neighboring 17th (Albany Park) District after tactical officers engaged the vehicle. The occupants fled on foot and were not apprehended.
A rifle was found in the vehicle, he said.
Residents raised concerns that the 16th District is under staffed and that when police do confront criminals their “hands are tied” because of restrictions on car and foot chases. It was reported at the meeting that Chicago police are conducting missions with the state police, whose chase policies are not as restrictive as the city’s.
Reyes said that police districts in the city are facing staffing challenges since the pandemic but that officers from different units and jurisdictions, including regional task forces, have been used to help monitor and patrol problem areas in the 16th District.
Reyes told residents that he has a vested interested in making sure their neighborhood is safe. “I’m a lifelong resident of the 16th District,” he said.
Reyes also encouraged owners of Kia and Hyundai cars to get the latest security-related software updates due to those vehicles being targeted by thieves. He added that a device like “the club” also should be considered because thieves may be more likely to avoid breaking into cars with visible anti-theft measures.
More than 50 people attended the meeting, which was held in the basement of the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St.