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Lakeview Residents Start Online Petition Demanding More Action on Crime

By Serena Dai | August 29, 2013 2:59pm | Updated on August 29, 2013 3:14pm
 Residents demand more police after one area of Lakeview leads the city in robberies, but police Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris says residents aren't considering all factors in making their demands.
Lakeview CAPS Meeting
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LAKEVIEW — Residents worried about crime have started an online petition demanding more cops, more accountability for social services and more action on quality of life issues like drinking in public.

"We are concerned with our safety and the ones we love," the petition on Change.org by "Citizens for a Safer Lakeview" reads. "We request some meaningful and effective changes from our elected officials and public servants."

A beat in Lakeview — an area bordered by Belmont, Halsted, Southport and Addison — has led the city in robberies this summer with 54 robberies in the past 90 days, according to police data.

Though crime has dipped this year from last year, robberies more than doubled between 2008 and 2012 in beat 1924, according to police data. 

Demands on the petition echo the ones residents have expressed at contentious community meetings this summer.

It asks for more cops, faster response times and implementation of a violence reduction initiative, a city program typically used to bring overtime officers to districts with high murder rates. Though the beat hasn't seen any murders, there have been 73 violent crimes reported in the last 90 days, according to police data.

The petition also asks that social services such as the Center on Halsted, The Night Ministry and Broadway Youth Center be held more accountable for its for its clients. Many neighbors have blamed the services for bringing crime to the neighborhood by attracting young people from the South and West Sides. 

Businesses should be responsible for security "to manage the unchecked numbers of youth who gather and cause an adverse effect during late night hours of operation," the petition writes.

And the petition also wants quality of life issues — which range from urinating on the public way to biking on sidewalks — to be addressed. 

Resident Michael Smith, who has been vocal at community meetings, started the petition with a group of other neighbors, he said in an email.

He posted the link to popular neighborhood blog Crime in Wrigleyville & Boystown, and the blog hoped a successful petition would bring "extra weight" to community concerns at next week's CAPS meeting.

"We've avoided being contentious or confrontational, and instead have offered up what we think needs to be done to improve conditions in the neighborhood," Smith wrote.

Businesses on Halsted have said they're aiming to do their part, with Northalsted Business Alliance paying nearly $80,000 for private security this year. Social services have previously responded to accusations by saying they work with community members and that "it's a little simplistic" to just blame crime on young people.

Ald. Tom Tunney's (44th) has continuously said that he's committed to safety in the neighborhood and has been working with police to promote collaboration.

Town Hall Police Cmmdr. Elias Voulgaris, who has promoted "zero tolerance" for quality of life issues since he started a year ago, said he did not have a response to the petition.

"My main point is that I will do my part from a police side," he said in an email, "but other agencies need to get involved as well."