LAKEVIEW — After a crime-ridden summer kept Lakeview neighbors on edge, September should have been the welcome calm after the storm.
That was not the case this year.
Unlike the past three years, when September saw significant drops in violent crime, August and September topped June and July this year when it came to robberies, assaults, batteries and sexual assaults.
Violent crime from June through September in Lakeview rose by 4 percent in 2015 compared to 2014, police data shows. But the 509 violent incidents this summer were still fewer than the 650 and 651 seen in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Ariel Cheung discusses the stats and what aldermen are doing:
The good news is that summer crime overall — including crimes like public indecency and more violent crimes like robbery — dropped about 6 percent compared to last year. Police data shows crime in Lakeview this summer — known to many as the time when hot, dry weather begets a rise in crime — has dropped by more than 20 percent since 2012.
But that's hardly the perception neighbors have.
"People really feel anxious about crime in our neighborhood. Statistics can be helpful, but I'm as concerned about the perception as the statistics," said Ald. Tom Tunney (44th). "I'm not happy about people's concerns."
An alderman for 13 years and a Lakeview resident for 35, Tunney said he still feels the neighborhood is much safer than in decades past.
"In the early '80s, we had much more serious crime in terms of shootings and gang activities, and a lot of us were there to fight that fight so we could have the kind of community we enjoy today," Tunney said.
But with social media and online news providing a faster, more accessible window into area crime, "the perception is different from the reality," Tunney said.
"The reality is this neighborhood is one of the safest in the city of Chicago."
It can be difficult to weigh the accuracy of crime statistics in Chicago; reports of manipulated crime data are not unheard of. The anonymously run Crime in Wrigleyville + Boystown blog has reported various roadblocks in the way of victims' attempts to file police reports. Some have said they give up after hours of waiting for an officer to show up at the scene of a crime.
Several commenters have also shared unverified stories on Neighborhood Square, DNAinfo's online community platform.
I was assaulted on Broadway last Saturday around noon. I tried for over half an hour to flag down a police car, none came by. I had a local business call saying a man was assaulted at Broadway and Briar, waited another 45 minutes, no one showed up, wrote rcooke3314 in early October.
From June through September, police issued 15 community alerts regarding crimes in the Town Hall District, which includes Lakeview and parts of Uptown, Lincoln Square, Lincoln Park and North Center. July topped the year so far with eight alerts.
The warnings ranged from burglary sprees targeting Lakeview businesses to muggings near the Belmont "L" station. Still, police data reflects a 25 percent drop in burglaries and robberies from last summer.
Aggravated assaults and batteries are at their highest points since at least 2012, with 17 and 51 incidents each. There were 391 non-aggravated incidents — typically those not involving a vulnerable victim or serious harm.
Criminal sexual assaults have almost tripled since the four-year low of eight in summer 2013. Twenty-one were reported this summer.
But arrests have also increased from more than 10 percent of crimes reported the past three summers to nearly 14 percent this summer.
Tunney has spent the summer responding to neighbors' concerns, initially suggesting chambers of commerce pony up the cash for private security. Earlier this month, though, he demanded a reversal in the shrinking Town Hall District police force.
Tunney and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said they'd secured a "commitment" from the police department that more officers would be sent to the Town Hall District.
"There have been promises, but I don't have any concrete information to give," Tunney told DNAinfo on Tuesday. The alderman reasserted that his vote on the city's proposed property tax hike on Wednesday would be largely tied to negotiations over public safety and education.
Tunney said he has been requesting more officers in Lakeview for years, which resulted in the creation of the "beefed up" entertainment detail that focuses on Boystown and Wrigleyville. He's also worked with neighborhood groups and business organizations to try and improve safety on a personal level.
"I think some of that is paying off, but that isn't any reason for me to rest," Tunney said.
Going forward, Tunney said he will continue to push neighbors to be more cautious when out at night and to call 911 to report suspicious activity.
"I want to make sure that we have the right amount of resources to make our neighborhood feel safe. Not just stat-wise, but so they feel this is the safe neighborhood that they deserve," Tunney said.
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