LAKEVIEW — No nefarious activity was spotted along Halsted Street on a community walk through Lakeview meant to deter crime, but police, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and some residents still declared the hour-long stroll a success.
Positive loitering walks are about raising awareness, showing community support for police and establishing neighbor presence in the area, they said. And the two dozen or so people who gathered in the 7-Eleven parking lot at Roscoe and Halsted streets did just that, they said.
"We know safety is a priority," Tunney said. "It's to show the community means business when it comes to security."
Lakeview community members have done fewer than 10 walks like this since 2006, Tunney said. Tunney and Town Hall Police Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris came under fire recently after Lakeview's beat 1924 led the city in robberies this summer. A contentious community policing meeting on Wednesday drew more than 80 residents who demanded more cops for the area.
Though Voulgaris said some administrative personnel would move to the streets, he emphasized the need to use police resources more efficiently rather than simply increasing officer on the street. He and Tunney also said community involvement is critical to bettering issues in the area — hence, walks such as Friday's.
Previous walks, like this one, have been "impromptu" reactions to summer crime, said resident John Becvar, who's also president of Triangle Neighbors. Residents, police and Tunney have spotted broken street lights and inappropriate behavior on those, he said.
"The goal is awareness raising," he said.
Greg Rohner, who lives in Boystown on Cornelia Avenue, said he hasn't personally fallen victim to crime or perceived increases. Mostly, he's not awake at peak crime hours between 1-5 a.m. to see it. That said, other people's perception of crime in the area concerns him — he was once out and about late at night, too, he said.
People tend to become "armchair security experts" in the summer, but attending walks such as this are a proactive way for residents to make an impact, he said.
"It's not going to happen for us," Rohner said. "We have to make it happen."
The walk started at 7-Eleven, went south on Halsted, turned west onto Belmont Avenue, north onto Sheffield Avenue, and then to School Street, Clark Street and Roscoe before landing back at 7-Eleven.
With the Market Days festival happening this weekend, Halsted was packed with bar-goers, and walkers, neighbors with dogs and even one resident with a stroller for her puppy squeezed past the crowded sidewalk with cops and TV cameras.
Before setting off, Voulgaris emphasized the need for a police presence to curb both robberies and quality of life issues such as drinking or urinating on the public way. He and Tunney hope the community will participate in more walks in the future.
"I refuse to believe we can't make a dent," Voulgaris said.