About 80 residents of the 33rd Ward turned out last night for a special CAPS meeting with Ald. Richard Mell and 17th District Police Commander Michael Mealer at Our Lady of Mercy Church Hall, 4432 N. Troy. The two-hour meeting, organized by Ald. Mell following a recent increase of reported violent crime in Ravenswood Manor, was largely respectful and quiet, although some frustrated residents spoke up near the end of the evening.
Mealer, flanked by three other 17th District ranking officers and two CTA security liaisons, made “accurate intelligence” his theme of the evening, beginning with the news that last month’s widely reported sexual assault in Ronan Park actually never happened. “The investigation [found] that it did not actually occur in Ronan Park,” said Mealer. “It occurred on Fullerton, [which is] no where near the park.”
Although the Ronan Park incident was part of a special alert provided by the Chicago Police, Mealer decried the use of “unofficial e-mail alerts” where community residents re-report the same incident multiple times, artificially inflating the level of crime in the neighborhood. “We all played the telephone game when we were in school, where rumors starts with the truth,” said Mealer. “People do the same things with e-mails.”
Mealer, who grew up in Our Lady of Mercy Parish, also said reported crime in beats 1724 and 1723, which encompass Ravenswood Manor,?has decreased in comparison to this time last year.
Mealer also informed the crowd that a rash of shootings – mostly west of Kimball – could be traced to an internal struggle among the Familia Stones, a gang local to the Albany Park area. Mealer was quick to point out that despite the increased shootings, there have been no homicides or?reported shootings in the 17th District this year so far. Mealer and his team credited those results with his district’s heavy use of database information to target police resources.
Mealer also reported that beat 1713, which includes the northern part of Ravenswood Manor, has had the most arrests of any beat in the 17th District, with 26 “shots fired” reports. But, most of those arrests and reports come from Lawrence Avenue, said Mealer.
The meeting had gone for almost an hour when community residents began to call for less general information and more specifics on how Chicago Police are addressing the attacks at Brown Line ‘L’ stops and a general increase of burglaries. In response, CTA representatives announced the installation of hi-def television cameras at the Francisco and Kimball stops, among more than 1,000 installed across the city. Mell also announced that he will be pressuring Chicago Police to keep officers in the 17th District rather than shifting them to other parts of the city to respond to other crime waves.
Finally, as the crowd began to dissolve, Mell called out his personal ?e-mail address for anyone to contact him through if they have questions: rmell33@ aol.com. ?Mealer also asked residents to send concerns and reports to firstname.lastname@example.org, and Jeff Wilson from CTA security asked residents to call him at (312) 681-2712 if they have questions or concerns.