Chicago's top cop says violence is spreading to downtown as it declines in hardest-hit neighborhoods
CHICAGO - Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown is pledging to send more officers into the downtown area, following three shootings near high-profile locations over the weekend.
Retired doctor, Ed Millunchick, welcomed the news as he walked his dog in the Streeterville neighborhood. Nearby, Chicago police were busy investigating another carjacking on his block.
"Not only do I take note of it, but it makes me anxious sometimes," Millunchick said. "I'm afraid to walk the dog at 10 or 11 o'clock at night."
At an afternoon press conference, Superintendent Brown promised downtown police reinforcements this week.
"We're putting together immediate plans, even this week, to add even more resources to our downtown neighborhood," he said.
During a violent weekend downtown, an 18-year-old male was shot to death after being snuck into a party at a hotel. A woman was killed outside the House of Blues during a fight over a boyfriend. And two men were shot outside a Taco Bell at State and Lake streets when a group tried to rob another group inside.
"The people who were robbed took out a firearm and started discharging at the individuals that took something from them, and then we had two victims who were unintended targets in this," said Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan.
Those two victims reportedly work as stagehands at the nearby Nederlander Theater, which is why Sunday night's performance of "Moulin Rouge' was canceled without explanation.
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Superintendent Brown blames the spike in downtown crime on what he calls "displacement," saying success in fighting crime in other neighborhoods has sent some criminals downtown.
"One neighborhood is not more important than the other," Brown said. "One shooting anywhere in the city is one too many regardless of where or who it happens to."
But 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, who represents the north part of downtown, says crime here has a disproportionate impact on city revenues.
"Tourists are increasingly being frightened by what's happening and it's affecting our bottom line," Hopkins said. "It's affecting our sales tax revenues. It's affecting the vacant storefronts on Michigan Avenue. We have to stop it."
Hopkins said the answer isn't taking police resources from other neighborhoods, but increasing the size of the Chicago police force, which he says is down about 2,000 officers.