EDGEWATER — Residents from the Far North Side are worried they are losing their neighborhoods to gangs, drug dealing and violence, and it has left the local alderman searching for solutions.
Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) hopes additional overhead lighting on the troubled streets of Winthrop and Kenmore avenues will discourage criminal activity.
He was speaking at a well-attended, impromptu community safety meeting held in late September, which was called after a series of apparent gang-related shootings in Edgewater, according to police.
"The last four weeks have been hell," said Ed McClane, a beat facilitator for Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy in Edgewater, to concerned residents at a recent CAPS beat meeting.
McClane and other residents have noticed an uptick in illicit activity, especially in alleyways on Sheridan Road.
McClane warned his neighbors at the meeting to be careful while walking in the neighborhood.
"Be very cautious," he said. "We've had activity on Sheridan like we've never had before."
At the same meeting, Sgt. Norman Kwong of the 20th Police District said there had been "a lot of internal strife" after gang members who held high positions had been arrested and taken off the streets.
Kwong said the district was also struggling with fewer police officers than usual.
"With retirement and attrition, we are at the lowest (amount of officers) we've ever been," he said.
Ald. James Cappleman (46th), who was also at the meeting, has seen the rise in crime firsthand — he was chased by a knife-wielding woman while walking the streets of Uptown in August.
Kwong said the woman was in custody and had a long history with the police department and even bragged about being arrested more than 400 times.
Osterman said he hoped to use some of his discretionary funds to hire off-duty cops to patrol areas of Bryn Mawr in the early evening.
Rocky, who attended the beat meeting and didn't want his last name published for safety reasons, said he had seen shots fired, gang beatings and gang loitering since moving to Edgewater in 2007.
He said he appreciated other neighbors getting involved and he hoped Ald. Osterman's plan of new lights on certain streets would "contribute to the solution."