GREEKTOWN — In response to residents' concerns over recent shootings, police announced they are beefing up a patrol in Greektown, adding a midnight squad car to scout the area surrounding Halsted Street and Jackson Boulevard.
Police Capt. Ron Pontecore of the Monroe District made the announcement at a Tuesday night community meeting hosted by Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) at 9 Muses restaurant, 315 S. Halsted St.
At the meeting, Burnett said residents had contacted him with concerns that the neighborhood’s 5 a.m. businesses were attracting the wrong kind of late-night crowd.
“Some folks have asked me to close down the 24-hour establishments,” he said.
Burnett said he wouldn't go that far, but said late-night business owners need to take the initiative and come to a compromise with residents.
“We don’t want to hurt anyone’s livelihood in this neighborhood,” he said. “What affects one person over here affects everyone.”
More than 60 residents and business owners showed up for the meeting, which also addressed recent shootings near Halsted and Jackson.
Two shootings occurred at the intersection in November and, more recently, a woman was shot in the leg on Dec. 30, according to Pontecore.
“I just couldn’t believe what I was witnessing,” said Jackie Dombek, a Greektown resident who saw the December shooting. “I’m looking out my window and it’s like there’s a gunfight at the OK Corral.”
Dombek, 47, who lives at Presidential Towers at 555 W. Madison St., said she awoke around 2 a.m. and immediately called police.
But several residents said a lack of police presence — not the area’s late-night establishments — was the real issue.
Paul Caston, who’s lived in the neighborhood since 1985, said while he thinks the area has had positive change over the past year, he’s recently seen a decline in police presence.
“You’ll see three or four cars double parked with no tow trucks going by,” he said.
Barbara Gressel, a representative from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, stressed that, as of March, a public nuisance case can now be brought against any business that allows illegal activity on its premises.
If such a case were brought against any of the 5 a.m. establishments in the area, at least three community meetings would be held to allow for discussion among the alderman, residents and the business owner.
In the past, Gressel said, community meetings have resulted in business owners employing security, altering their hours of operation and clearing off windows so police can clearly see into the establishment.
But with the sheer volume of late night establishments in the area, resident Paul Caston said he was not confident that public nuisances could, or should, be filed against so many businesses.
“It’s not just one business, it’s not just two businesses, it’s all the businesses,” he said.