CHICAGO (CBS) — It has been one of the most violent months ever in one Northwest Side Chicago neighborhood. Now city departments are coming together to try to get it under control.
Chicago police say they are stepping up patrols in Albany Park. It’s one thing being done to try to reverse an alarming spike in shootings in the 17th Police District. Lawrence Avenue in particular has been a corridor and hotspot for that violence.
One police source told CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov it is the result of at least a half dozen gang wars in the area.
Graffiti blasters hit the Albany Park neighborhood hard Friday morning, getting rid of gang tags on garages and buildings. It is a small way to try to erase signs of what police believe has been fueling so much violence in the area over the past month.
“This is a unique thing. We usually don’t come this far north,” said Chicago Police Department Public Engagement Director Glen Brooks. “In recent weeks we’ve experienced a spike in violence that we have not seen here in a while.”
The recent shootings and murders have rattled those who live in Albany Park and Ravenswood Manor. The most recent shooting death took place Monday.
“We’ve seen some recent crime in the 17th district, and it is just unacceptable,” said Ald. Sam Nugent “I know many of you that are here today live in this neighborhood, and you are feeling the feelings of how upsetting this is. And we need to deal with this.”
According to CPD data from Sept. 7 to Oct. 4, there have ben 52 shootings in the 17th Police District. There were 20 in the same time period last year. It is an increase of 160%. Murders have almost doubled in that same time period, too.
The spike is prompting some changes. For instance, a temporary shot spotter was place near Horner Park at Montrose and California.
Brooks said all city departments, not just police, are focused on making a difference in the area.
“We’ll continue over the weekend with increased enforcement,” he said.
Efforts Friday morning didn’t just include getting rid of gang graffiti. City crews were also out painting new crosswalks, fixing lights and doing other neighborhood improvements.
Brooks said district community policing officers will also be going door to door to talk with residents.
Some crimes in the area have actually decreased. Thefts and sexual assaults are down in the district, but most other crimes are up.