5th Ward meeting highlights anti-crime efforts


Maddie Elkins, Reporter

Evanston police Thursday night updated 5th Ward residents on crime in their community, highlighting their Problem Solving Team’s efforts to curb violence.

At a meeting hosted by Ald. Delores Holmes (5th), members of the patrol unit reminded about 20 residents that they are focusing on gang-related disturbances in the neighborhoods surrounding Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave. The officers said they are especially paying attention to gang activity in the 1700 block of Dodge Avenue and 1700 block of Church Street.

Officer Ron Blumenberg said the crime statistics from Sept. 1 to Oct. 16. are positive, but any crime is one too many. The data for the period included one homicide, five confirmed cases of shots fired, one aggravated battery and 13 burglaries, as well as 18 thefts. Of the 25 shots-fired calls that went out citywide, 24 percent of them came from the 5th Ward, which Blumenburg said he considers a low number.

The meeting at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St., also featured presentations from the Erie Family Health Center and the Evanston Police and Fire Foundation, as well as several announcements from Holmes.

Avery Hart, medical director of Erie Family Health Center, said the clinic will open its Evanston site — its first location outside Chicago — on Nov. 4. The Erie Family Health Center provides patients with community-based health care, regardless of their ability to pay, with funding from the federal government and donations from various foundations, corporations and hospitals. The new site is located near the intersection of Dempster Street and Hartrey Avenue.

“There are very few resources for people who don’t have insurance and don’t have money who need healthcare,” Hart said. “It turns out there are still some people who still won’t be covered by anything (under the Affordable Care Act), and we welcome those people.”

Bob Eder, chair of the Evanston Police and Fire Foundation board, explained the group’s efforts to supplement the city’s police and fire services, which include providing residents with CPR training, free smoke alarms and “file of life” cards that detail their medical history to first responders.

“Our mission has to do with supporting the police and fire departments with the kinds of materials and services that cannot be paid for out of the city budget,” Eder said. “We’re all quite well aware of the stress and the strain on municipal budgets nowadays. There’s no going to the state anymore — they’re broken. … The federal government, they can’t even keep the government open.”

Holmes reiterated her opposition to the Safe School Zone, a City Council proposal that would allow tougher enforcement of the area around ETHS. She said ETHS is already a Safe School Zone, and the measure to extend the zone into neighboring areas is excessive.

“We have a top-notch high school, but it happens to sit in a low-income minority community, and people have to adjust to that community,” Holmes said. “I feel they’re trying to give the appearance of safety, when it really doesn’t mean anything.”

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