Poll shows our city’s new reality: Chicagoans feel unsafe

Every Chicago family deserves to feel safe. Not someday in the future, not when politicians get around to it, not gradually, but right now.

SHARE Poll shows our city’s new reality: Chicagoans feel unsafe
Chicago police work the scene Jan 23 where 5 people were shot, 2 fatally in an apartment in the 7800 block of South Exchange Avenue in the South Shore neighborhood.

Chicago police work the scene Jan. 23 where five people were shot, two fatally in an apartment in the 7800 block of South Exchange Avenue in the South Shore neighborhood.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

In a recent poll by the Sun-Times, likely voters in Chicago’s mayoral race cited crime as their No. 1 issue, and 63% said they do not feel safe.

These results shouldn’t come as a surprise, and attempting to minimize the crime problem won’t make it go away.

That’s why recent comments from Gov. J.B. Pritzker are so out of touch. Rather than acknowledging families’ fears, he claims, “Crime is coming down gradually in the city and across the state. It’s going to take a little while.”

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Every Chicago family deserves to feel safe. Not someday in the future, not when politicians get around to it, not gradually, but right now.

The Sun-Times pointed out that murders have actually gone down year over year, though they remain at historic highs. Yet, many other crimes have gone up. Should families feel comfort they are more likely to be victims of a host of violent crimes just short of murder?

The rampant crime is having a ripple effect on people’s behaviors and the long-term success of Chicago.

For example, River North restaurant owner Steve Hartenstein told CBS Chicago businesses are forced to close early because workers are declining late shifts due to fears of crime, and some restaurants are paying out-of-pocket for increased security. They know diners won’t show up if they don’t feel safe.

Same for small business owners Teresa Ging, owner of Sugar Bliss in the Loop, and Uzma Sharif, owner of Chocolat Uzma in Pilsen, who are ready to move out of Chicago to protect themselves, their employees and their customers. Ging says she has become numb to the monthly burglaries at her shop, and Sharif says unless she hired 24/7 security guards, there’s no way she could stay in Chicago.

Just because Chicago is a big city doesn’t mean we should become accustomed and desensitized to the tragedy that unfolds every week. Just because politicians are content to see historic levels of violent crime for “a little while” doesn’t mean we should be.

Backed by public opinion, it’s time for media outlets like the Sun-Times to demand urgency and results from our elected officials.

Katie Clancy, marketing and communications manager, Illinois Opportunity Project

Where are the police?

Sunday night, someone was shooting outside my house and shot out the glass panel in my front storm door. I immediately called 911. The police never came. I made additional calls to 911 and the 6th District police station, and was told to call back in the morning and they’d have someone come by my house.

Each time I called I informed the officers I’m a retired Cook County deputy sheriff. I have no choice but to wait and see if any officers show up. My wife is terrified. We just had two of our great-grandchildren picked up after spending some time with us.

Should I be upset or not?

Kenneth Keith, Chatham

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