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Cops Hit South Shore Neighborhood Plagued By Violence

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Police tape seen at 75th Street and Constance Avenue. (Credit: CBS)

Police tape seen at 75th Street and Constance Avenue. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 06/15/11 7:08 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s evidence that more Chicago cops on the beat perhaps is already having an impact in one neighborhood troubled by violent crime.

People in South Shore have been dodging bullets, even in the morning. But the re-deployment of police officers there has stopped some of the gunfire.

CBS 2′s Jim Williams reports, the area around 75th Street and Exchange Avenue has become so dangerous that Kimberly Harris, the mother of 2-year-old son, Martell, lets her guard down only when she leaves the community.

“I choose to go way out the neighborhood because it’s just so unsafe,” Harris said. “Even during the day.”

In the last week, there was so much gunfire that supervisors at a nursing home refused to let its residents go outside for fresh air.

“I’ve been here 15 years,” said Hilton Smith. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Constant gunfire. It’s ridiculous.”

Residents report gunfire at all hours–even in the morning. Recently, some people were waiting at a bus stop around 10:30 a.m. when they heard nine or ten shots. Families had been afraid to send their kids to school.

The community’s alderman, Sandi Jackson, could not do an interview on camera because of a family illness. In a phone interview, she had one message: help is on the way.

In the last few days, more police officers have been added to beats, Jackson said, because of the recent re-deployment of police officers, ordered by Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

She described it as “sitting on hot spots” where gangs fight over drug turf.

Now, the daytime shootings have decreased considerably, neighbors say.

And police will soon have more help. Within weeks, security guards will soon patrol the area.

At Shannon’s Barber Shop and Salon, they call the new efforts “overdue.”

“It’s always been bad, but it’s like a ticking time bomb ready to explode,” said Chris Williams.

With so much attention focused this past week on the mob attacks downtown, the people of 75th and Exchange had been asking one question.

“I was wondering if people cared,” said Williams.

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