Ald. Sharon Dixon: Media’s attention needed to help bring down 24th Ward crime

At a recent public hearing by the City Council’s Police and Fire Committee, Ald. Sharon Dixon (24th) said shootings in her West Side community are largely ignored by the media, and suggested that more coverage could help stop the bullets from flying

At a recent public hearing by the City Council’s Police and Fire Committee, Ald. Sharon Dixon (24th) said shootings in her West Side community are largely ignored by the media and suggested that more coverage could help stop the bullets from flying.

Dixon expressed mild outrage at the media’s attention to the four shootings–one fatal–near this year’s Taste of Chicago.

“What happened at the Taste happens every day where I live, every single day,” Dixon said while looking at reporters in the media section.

She also mentioned the many shootings on the South Side in the past few months that dominated newspapers and television news stations.

Dixon urged the media to report when shootings and rampant crime occurs in Lawndale, instead of excluding the neighborhood.

“Maybe then we will get some attention, and these things won’t happen. If we are addressing the issues in the communities, it probably wouldn’t escalate to the Taste,” she said.

Residents agree with Dixon about the rise in crime and it being underreported but disagree that media attention could help bring it down.

The problem, two residents said, could be attributed to the alderman.

“There is not a lot of police patrolling the streets like they used to when (former) Ald. Michael Chandler had the ward. When he was in office, the police was always around,” Jermaine Atkins, a lifelong Lawndale resident said.

Atkins said there was a lot of drug selling and using, and gambling taking place in Douglas Park–another West Side community–sometimes while children were nearby, but Chandler worked with the police to stop it.

“When Chandler was there, the police would come by and sit, and the problems went away. Now, it’s back to the way it was,” Atkins said.

Another resident said Dixon hasn’t earned the respect yet to get things done. She’s too new and doesn’t know how to “play the game” with the police.

“Chandler knew how to get things done. He built a relationship with the community and the police. Dixon just hasn’t learned how to do that yet,” said Lawndale resident Shanda Johnson.

Dixon and her aldermanic staff beg to differ, stating that the overwhelming majority of ward constituents voted to oust Chandler. They said the perceived lack of police presence cannot be attributed to the new alderman.

“Only 22 percent of the ward’s registered voters wanted to keep Chandler in office,” said Frank Watkins, Dixon’s chief of staff.

The voters who were for Chandler will always be critical of Dixon and will unjustly label her as the scapegoat for any ills that plague the ward, he said.

Police Supt. Jody Weis said the department is doing all it can to help bring violence down in all areas of the city.

He said patrols would be stepped up in high crime areas.

Kathy Chaney can be reached at kchaney@chicagodefender.com.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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