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Crime Watch: Austin Residents Speak Out at CAPS Meeting

Residents at a Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting Tuesday night in Austin complained that crime in the neighborhood was rapidly rising.

“I have to look over my shoulder everywhere I go,” said Gertrude Franklin, 82.

Austin is located on the West Side of Chicago, and is the largest (by population) of the city’s 77 areas. According to city data, 85 percent of its residents are black.

Residents complained about gangs, shootings, and recent murders. They urged police to arrest the perpetrators.

Sidney Taylor, owner of Sir Sid Realty Ltd. on North Avenue, said he doesn’t like being at his office after 5 p.m. due to safety concerns. “Come over here about 7 o’clock at night,” he said. “You tell me what it’s like because I’ll be at home.”

CPD Detective Raymond Lloyd attempted to explain to residents that he understood their worries; assuring them the police are effectively handling crime and are monitoring crimes against businesses.

But residents complained that they needed more police patrols.

“The police aren’t doing enough. We need more hourly patrols of the side streets,” said Matthew Ford, an Austin resident.

According to CLEARpath, a CPD website, burglaries and thefts were up by 24 percent this year compared to 2011.

Residents at the meeting offered suggestions to the police department.

Monty Vargas, 36, said more undercover officers should be placed on the streets to catch offenders more quickly.

CPD Officer Mark Fisher said police are cracking down on every type of crime in the area.

“We already have a suspect in custody for the residential burglary that took place on Oct. 1 in the 5900 block of Corcoran,” he said.

Fisher said the police has a very difficult job catching every single perpetrator in an area where crime is all too common, and the support of the community is a necessity in helping to cut crime.

“Start by getting the thugs off my corner, that’s where the trouble is during the wee hours of the night,” said Joyce Morris, a resident.

Morris’s daughter, Ophelia, interrupted her mother, yelling that the same guys on the corner sexually harass her everyday as she walks home from school.

Lloyd displayed a chart showing areas that seemed to generate the most crime; he said police manpower is now stronger in those areas.

Residents asked if there was any strategy in place to prevent robberies during the holiday season.

“I’ve had instances where people tried to snatch my bags as I got off of the bus,” Vargas said.

Lloyd said police patrols will be especially vigilant during the holiday season. “We understand robberies are common during that time.”

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