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Shootings drop in Cunningham neighborhood

Since last year, shootings have dropped in the Cunningham neighborhood in Joliet.

The level of activity in the area was questioned at recent meetings of the Joliet City Council and the Cunning Neighborhood.

Joliet Police Sgt. Chris Moore said despite debate among people in the city, there are no outliers in reviewing the city’s crime map.

“I go to the Cunningham neighborhood meetings, and I usually present and answer questions,” he said, noting that shootings have decreased. “I wouldn’t characterize it as a shooting gallery. It’s about four problem houses. Once we had made arrests, the number of incidents decreased.”

Data indicates that at the start of 2017 through Aug. 24, 2017, Joliet Police recorded five shooting incidents in the Cunningham neighborhood. The total for that entire year amounted to six. During that same time period, 277 shooting incidents were reported citywide. The total for all of 2017 was 453.

Data goes on to show that at the start of 2018 through Aug. 24, Joliet Police noted five shooting incidents in the Cunningham neighborhood. During that same time period, 307 shooting incidents were recorded citywide.

“I know the calls for service are down, but they have had activity,” Councilwoman Bettye Gavin said. “It’s not as much as it’s made out to be. It was on an uptick. Shots were fired, and there was nothing to substantiate them. We’re concerned for the activity in all areas of the city.”

Gavin is the city’s lead representative for District No. 4, which includes the Cunningham neighborhood. She acknowledged that shooting activity presented an issue in the past and said she went on a tour in early July to get a sense for the area and its needs.

“The day went fine,” Gavin said. “It was clean and very quiet.”

Gavin said she would be supportive of the city and its efforts to acquire additional tools to promote safety.

“Lighting in all neighborhoods could be better,” she said. “The city is changing its lights to LED. That will improve visibility. I don’t know where the crews are with getting the lighting or getting out to all the neighborhoods.”

Gavin said that adding cameras would helpful, as well, so long as it’s feasible.

The police department employs directed patrols every year dispatching officers to different locations in the city, Moore said. These efforts change depending on the hotspot and the time of day.

“We have patrols assigned to zones,” Moore said. “We have guys assigned to areas where there’s more activity or crime in the past. They won’t answer other calls. They’ll be proactive.”

The Joliet Police Department has an officer assigned to the Cunningham area as part of its neighborhood-oriented policing team on top of patrols. Some neighborhoods in town are not assigned an officer.

“It’s dictated by calls for service, the time taken to complete calls, the availability of resources, and the response times to address incidents,” Moore said. “There is not enough manpower. The higher the crime, the more resources we employ.”

Neighborhood-oriented policing requires officers to work on problem-solving, make themselves visible and accessible to the community, and go to meetings.

Moore said the amount of activity exhibited in the city is a matter of income levels and geography.

“The further you move west, there’s less incidents,” he said. “The further east, the more incidents. Cunningham is right in the middle.”

Gavin said that if shooting activity increased, Joliet Police would increase its patrols, as needed.

“I believe the Joliet Police does everything in its powers to make everyone feel safe,” Gavin said. “Some areas have more units stationed for patrols and that’s a great thing to do. The Cunningham area has a neighborhood-oriented policing team. Not every neighborhood has it. They’re doing a good job being there and helping to protect everyone.”

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