Police share updates on area shootings
by BRIAN NADIG
Updates on shootings which occurred outside late-night businesses near Milwaukee and Berteau avenues and the role which neighbors play in catching burglars were discussed at a July 25 town hall meeting held by the 16th (Jefferson Park) District police.
Video footage of a fight that occurred at about 1:45 a.m. Saturday, July 21, shows a 41-year-old man being fatally shot in the abdomen outside La Pena restaurant, 4212 N. Milwaukee Ave., but the footage is too grainy to provide a clear image of the shooter, his male companion and their vehicle, according to police. The incident began with an argument that started inside the restaurant, police said.
Alderman John Arena (45th) said that there have been 10 calls for police service to the restaurant in the past year, mostly for minor incidents. “La Pena has been in the neighborhood for 12 years,” Arena said. “This is a model business. This business is not a problem.” La Pena’s owner attended the town hall meeting.
Meanwhile, a shooting incident in which three people wounded occurred in February in the parking lot of the Capitol Club, 4244 N. Milwaukee Ave. Arena said that he and the city Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection have been meeting with the owner of the night club to ensure that the club does “not lease its liquor license to anyone who wants to come into the neighborhood” to hold a party.
If the club fails to take measures to alter its business model, the city can move to have its liquor license revoked, Arena said. Under the city’s nuisance business ordinance, the club is required to participate in meetings with the department, the alderman and residents.
Arena’s director of economic development John Riordan said after the meeting that the owner has complied with several requests made by the department, including conducting security sweeps of the parking lot, providing information to police and the alderman about parties held by outside entities, attending beat meetings, training bartenders to not over-serve patrons, and requiring references from those who lease the club.
The meeting also featured a panel of convicted burglars who have served jail time and who are living in a transitional center before their sentences are over. The panel, whose members volunteer to participate, is designed to give residents tips on how they can secure their homes.
Each panel member said that he had been arrested because residents saw something suspicious on their block and called 911. One panel member said that he prefers a home to have a tall privacy fence because it means that neighbors cannot see him as he is breaking into the house.
Several panel members recommended that doors be fortified with steel strips and that hinges be fastened with large screws in order to make it difficult for a door to be broken in. Some of the speakers added that alarms are not a good deterrent because they would finish searching a house before police would arrive or because they knew how to disengage the alarm.
While some panel members said that they would avoid homes with dogs, one said that he would give dogs food. Panel members said that before entering a house they would watch it to make sure that no one was home and that they would flee if they encountered someone inside.
Also at the meeting, community policing sergeant Daniel Kivel said that while the 16th District does experience gang problems, especially in some of the parks, it has no locations where a gang can claim control. The district has been conducting gang missions in Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave., and Chopin Park, 3420 N. Long Ave.
Concerns also were raised about the decrease in manpower in the district, which has 196 officers, over the last 10 years due to budget problems and a transfer of resources to higher-crime districts. Kivel said that one squad car is assigned to each of the district’s beats throughout the day and that citywide units often ride through the district.
About 150 people attended the meeting, which was held at the Copernicus Cultural and Civic Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. Alderman Nicholas Sposato (36th) and several representatives of the Area North Detective Division also were available to answer questions.