To the Editor:
You should be embarrassed by the Windy City Times' front page story, Lakeview crime: The numbers ( in the July 27 issue ) .
Crime statistics in the 23rd District is a newsworthy story. However, the WCT went beyond reporting and demonstrated a clear lack of understanding numbers when it used the district-wide statistics to suggest that crime in the Boystown section of the 23rd District is down, too.
The story states, "While some media outlets have claimed there's been an increase in crime in the neighborhood, our findings suggest otherwise." This is true if your definition of "neighborhood" is the entire 23rd District. However, of course, Boystown is a just a sliver of the 23rd District, so your article is comparing apples to oranges. Remember, the Facebook page that your reporter refers to is called "Take Back Boystown," not "Take Back Lakeview."
It's too bad that your reporter didn't make an effort to conduct some real research rather than merely citing district-level statistics as proof that beat-level crime is down.
Let me help you with some research on crime in the neighborhood.
As I write this letter, the Chicago Police Department has not yet released beat-level crime statistics for January-June 2011. However, by using the Chicago Police Department's ( CPD's ) ClearMap website and archived ClearMap data on Everyblock.com, it is possible to reasonably predict what the official numbers will show: Beat 2331, which covers the heart of Boystown from Addison to Aldine and Clark to the lake, experienced a 50-percent increase in violent crime during the first six months of 2011 when compared to the same period in 2010.
Compilation of crime reports from ClearMap and Everyblock for the first six months of 2011 reveals:
A 44-percent year-over-year increase in robberies ( 23 this year vs. 16 last year )
A 60-percent year-over-year increase in aggravated batteries. ( There were eight this year, versus five last year. There were two more cases of aggravated battery July 3, which falls out of the range of these statistics. )
Further, the CPD web ite allows us to compare crime activity on beat 2331 with neighboring beats. Use of this tool reveals that, over the past 180 days ( ending July 30, 2011 ) , beat 2331 ranks:
Number two in violent crime when compared with the 10 nearest police beats;
Number two in robberies when compared with the 10 police beats; and
Number one in aggravated batteries when compared with the 10 nearest police beats ( nearly twice as many cases of aggravated battery as the number-two beat, with 11 cases versus six ) .
The community took action not based on a "perception" of an increase in crime, but rather a reality of an increase in crime.
Thanks to the efforts of the CPD and concerned neighbors, crime has nosedived on the Halsted corridor and Beat 2331, specifically since the community spoke out at the July 6 CAPS meeting.
I look forward to seeing your report on Boystown crime statistics in the near future.
Windy City Times writer Erica Demarest responds: In our July 27 article "Lakeview crime: The numbers," Windy City Times used the most accurate, reliable and up-to-date crime statistics available, namely 23rd District index crime reports.
As Mr. Hecke pointed out, the Chicago Police Department has not yet released beat-level crime statistics. ( This is typically done at the end of the year in a district-wide crime report. ) As such, it is impossible to accurately analyze beat-level crime. While sources like Everyblock.com and ClearPath give us an estimate of crime statistics, neither is by any means comprehensive or guaranteed to be accurate.
Furthermore, it is important to pay attention not only to percentages but also to raw data. While a jump from five to eight does represent a 60-percent increase, the number three ( the difference between five and eight ) and the phrase "60 percent" create vastly different pictures.
Windy City Times will continue to monitor crime data as it becomes available from reliable sources. We welcome letters to the editor and thank you for your interest.
Kudos to Kate Sosin and the other Windy City Times writers who have been covering the Boystown safety issues, the Take Back Boystown movement and topics related to both. WCT has been and continues to be an important voice and presence in the community. I respect and support your efforts.
Night Ministry's stand
A Statement From The Night
Ministry Regarding Services in Lakeview
Since it was founded in the Lakeview neighborhood in 1976, The Night Ministry has been dedicated to meeting the needs of adults and youth who live on or are exposed to the night time streets of Chicago. Although these services have changed and expanded over the years, one thing that has not changed is the need for quality services to meet the needs faced by thousands of our city's residents.
In Lakeview, The Night Ministry operates a nationally-recognized Youth Outreach Program and has conducted street outreach for more than 20 years ( more than 10 years at our current location ) . The purpose of the Program is to provide low-threshold ( easy to access ) services to youth who find themselves homeless or at-risk for homelessness while in the Lakeview neighborhood. Each young person's reason for being on the streets or for seeking our services is unique. Many of the youth have been forced out of their homes because they have either come out as lGBT or are questioning their sexual identity. Others have been forced to leave home for economic reasons or because they are pregnant and have no one to turn to for help. Some are fleeing physical abuse and/or neglect, while others who are both homeless and in school use the services to access a meal and to stretch their dollar.
The Night Ministry's Youth Outreach Program is staffed by four employees, a cadre of interns, and a dedicated group of volunteers. All staff are highly qualified and are experts in crisis intervention and harm reduction methods of service delivery. As harm reduction specialists, the staff create an atmosphere on the streets where youth feel safe to gather and to receive services. Such services include crisis intervention, the provision of safer sex counseling and supplies, access to health information and hygiene products, rapid HIV testing, referrals to housing and other social services, and a caring, listening ear. All services are provided with the goal of meeting the individual's immediate physical needs, keeping them safe, and then developing a plan that will result in more stable, safe housing.
In keeping with The Night Ministry's core values, all services are provided in a compassionate manner that recognizes the developmental needs of the individual and accepts that person regardless of race, gender, religion, socioeconomic state or sexual orientation. The Night Ministry is proud of its long history of service on the streets in Lakeview and welcomes the community to learn more about its work and provide assistance in its mission.