LAKEVIEW — More cops will soon be patrolling Lakeview on foot after residents demanded to see more police presence in the streets, Town Hall District Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris said Wednesday.
Before Voulgaris arrived last August, some officers were taken off the streets and put into cars, the commander said, though he did not know why. Foot posts will be reinstated at "several locations" near the border of beat 1923 and 1924, or Addison Street, he said.
The officers will be spread throughout the day, and beat officers will not be taken off their areas, he said.
"Even though our stats are very low in every area of crime, perception is what I need to work on," Voulgaris told members of the Southport Neighbors Association at Blaine Elementary School, 1420 W. Grace St. "That is the number one priority for me."
Voulgaris came under fire after a beat in Lakeview led the city in robberies this summer. More than 80 residents crowded a community room in the Town Hall District headquarters last week demanding more police resources.
The beat in question — an area bordered by Belmont, Addison, Southport and Halsted — saw an overall decline in crime from last year to this year, with a 9 percent dip.
Voulgaris also told neighbors that he doesn't compare beats and that other factors — such as the high population density of the beat — need to be considered.
High pedestrian traffic between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. makes neighborhood bar patrons with smartphones easy targets, police said.
"This is the new Division Street," Community Policing Sgt. Jason Clark said Wednesday. "No one goes to Division Street. No one goes to Wicker Park. Everybody goes to Lakeview."
More police on the streets will hopefully start quelling safety fears in the area, Voulgaris said.
"I can spout out stats all night long," he said. "For those of you who are a victim of a crime, for those of you who see suspicious people on the street — you want to know where the police are."