Residents concerns about large, noisy gatherings and seemingly omnipresent fireworks dominated a July 14 Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy meeting for the 2nd Sector, which includes Kenwood and parts of southern Bronzeville.
From June 15 to July 13, police reported that there were three shootings (one homicide) and seven robberies between in the sector; in the month before that, there were four shootings (one homicide) and six robberies.
In Kenwood's Beat 222, the biggest number of calls for service were over burglar alarms, domestic disturbances, fireworks, general disturbances and parking violations.
Asked about shootings over the past week on Drexel Avenue, at 43rd Street and St. Lawrence Avenue, and at Mandrake Park, 3858 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Sgt. Yolanda Walton acknowledged "quite a few" recent shootings and said 2020 has been rough on the entire city. She pointed to new Superintendent David Brown's reforms to try to forge solutions to gun violence.
Asked specifically if there was a gang war in the area, Walton said she could not answer, just having come back to the job from sick leave, but did acknowledge the presence of two gangs in that area of Bronzeville. A Chicago Police Department spokeswoman had no record of a shooting over the last week on Drexel Avenue.
Regarding recent burglaries to businesses like Popeyes, 818 E. 47th St., and Dollar Tree, 715 E. 47th St. along the corridor through Bronzeville and Kenwood, Moore said two suspects in black hooded sweatshirts have been committing them in early mornings, forcing open a door or window before stealing property. She said detectives are investigating the cases and asked meeting attendees to call 9-1-1 if they see people breaking into stores that have not yet opened for the day.
Residents have long complained about large, rowdy gatherings near Promontory Point, 5491 S. Shore Drive — about which a working group of police, residents and Ald. Leslie Hairston's (5th) staff will have a meeting next week — and along Oakenwald Avenue near the lakefront. Walton said circumstances have been worse this year: rather than one gathering in one location, there are multiple gatherings of 50-60 people in multiple locations all at once. She said police have doing the best they can and asked attendees for patience.
It will take time for cars to respond to noise disturbances, Walton acknowledged, as that type of incident one of low priority compared to violent crime. Stationing patrol cars in noise complaint hot spots is a new response for the 2nd District, she said, but the police are willing to try something new. And having more people call about an incident impresses a situation's urgency upon responders.
Office Candice Moore said this year has been one of the worst for fireworks, pointing to months of quarantine and people blowing off steam. Because of the calls for service, she said it has been difficult enforcing city ordinances against their use.
Community organizer Akeya Channell asked anyone interested in organizing a block club for their block of neighborhood to call the 2nd District CAPS office at 312-747-8366, adding that they are great ways for residents to pass information about local crimes to the police and neighbors. She is working on establishing five or six now but would like to start 10 or 20.
Walton also asked attendees if they were interested in returning to in-person meetings; feedback can be given at CAPS002District@chicagopolice.org.
The CAPS meeting for the 3rd District, covering beats in Hyde Park and Washington Park, will be on Tuesday, July 21, at 6 p.m. over Zoom.