CHICAGO — Amid increased concerns about the uptick in violent crime downtown, community members are hopeful a stronger police presence is the answer.
The issue comes as the Chicago Police Department faces criticism for taking six minutes to respond to the beating of two men in River North over the weekend, in addition to a spike in robberies.
As a result, Cook County Sheriff’s officers are now patrolling downtown to help Chicago officers, as they have in other parts of the city.
“We help wherever we can when we see a place we might be able to help and we support their efforts,” said Leo Schmitz with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.
CWB Chicago released a video of the State Street attack that occurred Saturday around 1:30 a.m. In the video, two men are beaten while bystanders watch and record the assault on their phones. In addition, a series of violent attacks downtown prompted hundreds of concerned neighbors in the Gold Coast to question Chicago police Tuesday night.
“A lot of the emails that were sent to us, a lot of the questions that were sent to us had the perception that police weren’t able to conduct these missions or effectively patrol,” said 2nd Ward staffer Steve Niketopoulos.
Among the community’s biggest worries – robberies.
“Just this morning, we did have an attempted strong-arm robbery at Chicago and State. The 18th District officers and Loyola University police officers made four arrests and all four are charged with attempted robbery,” said 18th District commander Jill Stevens.
Yet over the last month, Stevens said the 18th District on Chicago’s North Side has seen just one more robbery than over the same time period last year.
Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward) joined the virtual Gold Coast community meeting.
“Crime concerns everybody in every neighborhood in the city of Chicago right now,” Hopkins said.
It’s why Chicago police will get an assist downtown from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. While the Sheriff’s Office has helped CPD in Austin and Gresham before, it’s the first time deputies are sending backup downtown – a sergeant and eight officers about three days a week.
“We’re trying to support their effort in different areas,” Schmitz said.
Schmitz said the brutal beating and robbery captured on camera on State Street in River North over the weekend is the type of crime they’re trying to prevent. One man was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treatment.
“When we see something like that, we want to stop that, deter it,” Schmitz said. “Our whole idea of being in downtown Chicago is to deter crime.”
Police asking neighbors to help, too, by calling 911.
“You might think it takes 20 minutes for us to respond,” Stevens says, “but if you gave out that description, we’re out there looking for that person.”