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Rogers Park Keeps Violence Down

Rogers Park Keeps Violence Down

It is no secret that crime in Chicago is on track to significantly go up, even though it has been on a downward trend since the early 1990s.

With 2,664 shooting victims to date and 2,996 shooting victims last year, this year is on track to surpass last year’s shooting victims in the near future.

But one neighborhood that has caught our attention by keeping crime to a minimum is, surprisingly,  Rogers Park.

Five years ago, any person walking alone at night could feel, especially in certain areas in this neighborhood, unsafe. But now, police officers can be seen walking around and it doesn’t feel as crime ridden anymore.

And that’s because it isn’t. In 2010, Rogers Park saw 4,698 crimes total, whereas 2014 (the most recent crime stats Chicago police offer) saw only 1,606.

Forty-ninth district Alderman Joe Moore believes that Rogers Park saw this decline because of community policing efforts.

“One of the key factors is we have very strong positive community police relationships, probably more so than the vast majority of neighborhoods in the city,” Moore said. “That’s not to say it’s all nirvana, but we are doing better than most.”

Moore said this comes from community walks, a very strong Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), who have strong communication with police, and the police officers themselves.

“I will not underestimate the role that our police commanders have played,” Moore said.

“One thing that Thomas Waldera (the district commander) did well by us in the 24th police district is that he increased putting out very proactive, community-orientated police commanders. Guys who really get it, who really understand the important role that communication with community locally-elected officials plays in the fight on crime; because the more they communicate information, the more information you get back.”

On August 9, the City Council held a Police Accountability Hearing in Rogers Park (here is last Friday’s issue ), where the people of the community brought up the fact that they felt harassed by the police in the neighborhood.

Jason Saini, a resident of Rogers Park from 2001 to 2003 and from Nov. 2015 to now, has heard stories of police harassment, but has not witnessed anything himself.

Saini said he has noticed a drop in crime in only certain areas of Rogers Park, especially the east. He felt like nothing had changed in West Rogers Park.

“The biggest change I have seen in Rogers Park is the gentrification of certain areas,” Saini said.  “It’s not been as rapid as some other neighborhoods, but it’s happening.”

Saini added he felt like the new restaurants have helped significantly, but he still hears the same police activity that he heard when he lived in Rogers Park years ago.

In the past year, Rogers Park has seen only three homicides, whereas the entire city has seen 454 this year alone (as of late Thursday, Aug. 19), according to police data.

Moore assures citizens that crime has gone down because of the numbers, but he is aware that sometimes it is hard to see that.

“Twenty years ago it was really the toughest, there were a lot of shootings and violence, two to three times what we are experiencing now,” Moore said.

“I think social media makes people more aware of where the shootings are occurring today, but there is no comparison to what we were facing in the early 90s in Rogers Park. Crime in all categories has fallen.”

The crime rates in Rogers Park have decreased dramatically and it’s noticeable now; even driving or walking around the neighborhood at night seems like a whole different experience.

“I feel like Rogers Park is a bit off the radar and slower to change due to its distance from the city,” Saini said. “While years ago, it was hard to feel safe anywhere east of Sheridan, that line is moving slowly and steadily west.”

Jessica.L@chicagonewstoday.com