After shooting, neighbors worry about safety in Oz Park

Community members met with Ald. Michele Smith and Chicago police officers Friday, days after a teen was grazed by a bullet nearby.

SHARE After shooting, neighbors worry about safety in Oz Park
Chicago Police Officer Ramona Stovall and Sgt. Christopher Schenk speak to residents during a community meeting Friday afternoon about public safety and policing near Oz Park in Lincoln Park on the North Side.

Chicago Police Officer Ramona Stovall and Sgt. Christopher Schenk speak to residents during a community meeting Friday afternoon about public safety and policing near Oz Park in Lincoln Park on the North Side.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Neighbors gathered in Oz Park Friday to demand law enforcement and city officials do more to keep the area safe following a shooting in the area days before.

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) and 18th District police officers met with a crowd of frustrated residents after a 17-year-old boy was shot in the arm Tuesday evening in the 2000 block of North Burling St., near Lincoln Park High School.

Smith, in an email newsletter, said the victim has refused to cooperate and that police “arrested several individuals, recovered a gun, and charged one offender with unlawful use of a weapon.”

But Shannon Waterfield said residents’ concerns started before Tuesday’s shooting.

“This has been a concern for years. This is not just one incident,” said Waterfield, who lives in Old Town.

“This is why the neighbors are really frustrated, and the cops are frustrated because when they make these arrests these kids get out in five minutes,” she said.

Community members also said a group of minors have been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana in the park. While the cops show up when called, the residents said that typically not much is done. They also want to see more cops patrolling the area on a regular basis and more cameras.

Smith said she brought police out so they could hear directly from residents, and she asked neighbors to point out specific locations within the park that could “be made safer.”

“Our community is very united about stopping crime,” Smith said.

The Chicago Police Department pledged to add more foot patrols and surveillance cameras in the area. They also urged witnesses to be more descriptive when calling or issuing a complaint about suspicious activity.

“We need people to step forward and help us be able to help them,” said Lt. Tony Mendez.

“Sometimes what happens is they will call and think an anonymous call is enough, when it’s not. We need them to join a court advocacy program, so we can follow these cases and make sure we get convictions,” he added.

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) speaks to constituents during a community meeting Friday afternoon about public safety and policing near Oz Park in Lincoln Park on the North Side.

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) speaks to constituents during a community meeting Friday afternoon about public safety and policing near Oz Park in Lincoln Park on the North Side.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Chicago Police District 18 Lt. Tony Mendez speaks to residents during a community meeting Friday afternoon about public safety and policing near Oz Park in Lincoln Park on the North Side.

Chicago Police District 18 Lt. Tony Mendez speaks to residents during a community meeting Friday afternoon about public safety and policing near Oz Park in Lincoln Park on the North Side.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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