WOODLAWN — Neighbors called police Monday about loud music at Mamie Till-Mobley Park and then were surprised when within minutes 20 police officers and a helicopter surrounded the park.
Neighbors have long complained about loitering, loud music and other problems at the park, 6404 S. Ellis Ave., and Ald. Willie Cochran said it’s been a hot spot for drug activity in the area. But none seemed prepared for the the level of police response Monday night.
One neighbor, who can see the park from her home but who asked to remain anonymous because of fear of retribution, said her husband called the police at 9:30 p.m. and within two minutes the park was swarmed by police.
She said she doesn’t think her call brought all the police to the park, but it may have triggered an operation already planned for the park that has frequently been the site of shootings, including a 30-year-old man who was shot in the face June 6.
Neighbors blocks away described police cars cruising up and down Ingleside, Woodlawn and other blocks appearing to be looking for something or someone. Neighbors said they saw 15-20 officers in the park at 10 p.m. A police helicopter circled the park for at least 30 minutes, according to neighbors.
They said about 20 people, mostly young men who had been hanging out in the park or the adjoining alley, were put on the ground in handcuffs or in squad cars or were questioned by police in an operation that took over an hour.
But in the end, no arrests were made and police said Tuesday there were currently no charges pending for any of the people in the park.
Police declined to say whether it was part of a coordinated operation or in response to a specific event, but said it was not part of an operation with outside law enforcement agencies and was not part of executing a search warrant.
Ald. Cochran initially said he expected arrests as part of Monday night’s operation, but then backed off that statement after police said that currently no charges were being pressed.
He praised the use of the helicopter to break up the crowd in a park he described as a problem area for gang activity, drugs and drive-by shootings.
“The helicopter is a response that can be very helpful when you’re talking about drive-bys or covering large areas,” Cochran said. “You’ll be seeing helicopters more and more and we welcome every tool to help alleviate crime.”
Cochran said he will continue to work with police and neighbors to improve the park.