People living around Hamlin Park should soon see increased police patrols and a dedicated presence during the coming summer youth baseball season, based on assurances from the man in charge of enforcement in the neighborhood.
Chicago Police 19th District Commander John Kenny laid out the department’s plan for increasing presence around Hamlin Park during Monday night’s meeting of the Hamlin Park Neighbors group, according to group President Charlie Beach.
This was Cmdr. Kenny’s first appearance before the organization since the March 16 shooting in the 2100 block of West Fletcher Street. That shooting, which sent a man to the hospital with a bullet wound to the face, was the third shooting in the area since October 2011. Cmdr. Kenny told the group that an arrest was made in the shooting; a former gang member in his 40s who’d gotten into “a verbal altercation” with a current member of the gang.
All three shootings are part of a pattern of crime around Hamlin Park that can be traced to the remnants of the Insane Deuces gang, which has been a small but tenacious presence in the area since growing out of the Lathrop Homes development in the 1950s. Last month, a Roscoe View Journal analysis of Chicago Police reports showed 494 reports of serious, non-domestic crimes in the one-block radius around Hamlin Park between 2007 and 2011.
According to Beach, Cmdr. Kenny told Hamlin Park Neighbors that he’s assigned extra patrols to the area around the park, and that a tactical squad has been dedicated to Hamlin Park and Lathrop Homes to help deter gang-related activity. Beach said the commander also confirmed that police officers will work with building inspectors to target known gang hangouts in an effort to roust violent elements from the neighborhood. “If people report building code violations and they’re also aware that it’s a house that has gang activity, they’ll use it as an opportunity to get in there.”
The information from Cmdr. Kenny was reportedly welcome news for the 60 or so people in attendance at Monday’s meeting. “I think there was some satisfaction from what [neighbors] got from the commander,” said Beach. “And there was also lots of discussion about the neighborhood being proactive, and that this is something we keep on the front burner. Baseball’s coming and there’s going to be a lot of kids out there this summer.”