CHICAGO (CBS) — More Chicago neighborhoods are seeing upticks in crime, and many people are looking for the Chicago Police Department to take control. But some communities are stepping up to the plate to drive crime out.
As the sun beats down on the baseball diamond, a group on the city’s Southwest Side is determined to beat the odds. With every pitch, two neighborhood watch groups, West Lawn and Scottsdale, refuse to strike out when it comes to fighting crime in their communities.READ MORE: Nine More States Added To Chicago Travel Advisory
“We come in to bridge that gap because we know there are some disparities,” said Eddie Guillen with West Lawn Neighborhood Watch.
Rainey Park, the same field where the community baseball even took place, has been part of a turf war.
“Our local neighborhood gang we deal with on a regular basis does like to hang here,” said Jason Huff with the Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch.
Yet on Friday, the community solidarity proved there are more parents and youngsters looking to improve and deter violence.
“As long as you’re not hanging around here and bring down the crime level, that’s what we’re looking for as an organization,” said Huff.READ MORE: Police Say Tristan Whigham, 1-Year-Old Reported Missing, Is Safe With Family At A Shelter
And it’s working. In Westlawn, serious crimes, which include robberies, burglaries and auto thefts, dropped 27% in one year. Many credit the efforts of the active neighborhood watch, which also includes overnight patrols by those living there.
“It’s very encouraging,” said Guillen. “The work we’ve been putting into the community, it shows. It speaks for itself.”
And it allows for youngsters to see they can hang out in the park without worrying about violence or getting targeted by gangs.
With the uptick of violence citywide, the West Lawn and Scottsdale watch groups feel optimistic if more communities get involved and pick up the ball, Chicago can combat this crime wave.
“That’s showing a sign that the communities are still vibrant,” Huff said. “We can do anything possible as long as we work together as a group.”MORE NEWS: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming?
The two neighborhood groups also work closely with area police districts, and since they are mostly Latino communities they are looking to increase the positive interaction teens have with officers. Later this summer CPD will take the field and play community members.