By Matt Stelter
As gang-related crimes increase, Chicago police seek community help to promote safety in Albany Park.
According to Chicago Census data, Albany Park is home to over 51,000 people. Most of these people are good, hardworking people, but unfortunately crime is still a regular occurrence in Albany Park. Enough crime occurs that the neighborhood has developed a reputation as a less-than-safe place to live. Despite the authorities’ best efforts, crime seems to be getting worse in Albany Park. This was driven home earlier this year when Albany Park suffered its first murder, a gang-related shooting on Jan. 3.
The types of crime vary from day to day, but according to everyblock.com, the most common crimes include vandalism, theft, and simple battery. According to police reports, much of the crime can be traced back to Albany Park’s high rate of gang-related activity. This high rate of activity is due to the large number of active gangs in Albany Park, including major gangs like the Latin Kings. Much of the vandalism involves tagging (spray painting gang symbols) gang territory locations, and many simple battery charges can be linked to gang activity as well.
Possibly more damaging than actual crime is the perception of crime within Albany Park. Sites such as streetadvisor.com, neighborhoodscount.com, and everyblock.com provide valuable insight not only for current residents of Albany Park, but also for potential residents of Albany Park. Everyblock users in particular express concern over the rising number of car thefts and break-ins in Albany Park. Streetadvisor states that while Albany Park is good for neighborly spirit, it is ranked low in the area of safety. While people’s perception does not necessarily translate to actual crime rates, it does speak to how crime affects the community as a whole, and could mean trouble in the future if crime rates do continue to increase.
Police are doing their best to combat this rise in crime, not only in increased patrols, but in trying to involve the community as much as possible in crime prevention processes. After the January shooting, Ward 33 Alderman Dick Mell called an emergency meeting to discuss how to prevent another tragedy from occurring. Additionally, the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) seeks to establish a continuing dialogue between Chicago police and the community, in the hopes that both can come together to make their neighborhoods a much safer place.