LOGAN SQUARE — Timmy Granzow is looking out for you, Chicago.
The 20-year-old Avondale native is the author behind the Avondale and Logan Square Crime Blotter, a log of neighborhood police scanner activity he has compiled from his bedroom since he was 15.
There are plenty of dispatched police calls that don't make the news, but Granzow said he's seen a dip in crime in recent years, particularly around up-and-coming Logan Square.
"Things were pretty bad out here when I first started listening. I would be recording a call every minute, but now it's more like every 40 minutes," he said. "We’re definitely on the lower end; crime is just down, particularly in this part of Logan Square."
Granzow, as laid out in his first blog post, is autistic, but he rejects the idea that his word-for-word scanner reports are compulsive behavior caused by his disorder.
"Some people think I do it because of my autism, like it’s a habit and I need something to do," he said. "But I feel like it’s a duty. I do it because I care about people."
That duty includes keeping an eye on the neighborhood while residents are away at work and generally busy throughout the day, he said. A read-through of his blotter on any given day could include reports of gang activity, shootings, prostitution, theft, public drunkenness, violent animals, loud music disturbances, drugs, traffic accidents, general "vice complaints," missing persons, trespassing and the occasional police chase in his coverage area.
The number of severe incidents appears to be declining, but Granzow still remembers the worst moments, such as an incident he recorded on Halloween 2009 in which a pregnant woman was shot in Avondale.
"Thankfully, there hasn’t been anything like that recently; I've actually been bored listening to the scanner lately," he said.
But these days, the criminal justice major at Wilbur Wright College has more on his plate — he's about halfway through an associate's program that will train him for a job on the other side of the police scanner: a Chicago Police Department dispatcher.
Readership on his blog has dropped in recent months from an all-time high of 500 readers per day, but Granzow still posts updates regularly from his shifts on the scanner, which sometimes stretch to six hours.
He posts less now, he said, often between classes and sometimes after student government meetings — but Logan Square and Avondale residents still can find dates for CAPS meetings and scanner activity by neighborhood police officers.
"I'll keep doing [the blog] because I want to keep the neighborhood informed," he said. "My reward would be for neighbors to be unified, for all of us to be on the same page and looking out for each other."
Besides, he added, "My mom said it's opened a lot of doors for me."