Latino State News
CRIME: Pilsen Crime On A Five-Year Decline
Over the past five years Pilsen has seen a decrease in crime and residents believe that this is due to the increase in diversity in the community and recent real estate developments.
“Gentrification is helping decrease crime because of the kind of people that are moving into the area,”said Maria Torres, a representative from the Pilsen Alliance, which is a community organization that focuses on the development of the Pilsen area.
Throughout the Pilsen community there are many small grassroots organizations that are forming to help deter crime.
Citywide programs like CAPS, the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, is working very closely with the Pilsen neighborhood and modifying their services to meet the needs of the community.
“The CAPS program is helping a lot, they are giving out clothes and holding clothes drives, and focusing more on social issues versus just policing,” Torres says.
Many residents believe that social programs and focusing on the economic development of the community is key in deterring crime and increasing home ownership.
“I would like for there to be a considered effort for economic development for current residents so they can continue to own their own homes, start business and invest in the neighborhood and invest in the character of the neighborhood,” said lifetime resident and local artist at Xicago Art Studio, Roberto Valadez, age 48.
Valadez says that although there is still drug and gang activity in Pilsen, that it’s not as bad as it has been in previous years.
“We live in the city of course, like any big city there is going to be crime issues. I don’t think we’re unique in that, every neighborhood in the city has some level of crime,” said Valadez.
Residents like Valadez believe that more programs should be designed to keep youth involved in positive activities.
“I got my start as a community based mural painter, and I think by engaging young people in other activities other than gangs, that’s the key,” said Valadez.
Pilsen resident, Mario Gallegos, 19 said, “There should be anti-gang programs and this would be a great benefit to the community.” He also suggested more patrol shifts and more police presence in the area.
Like Gallegos, many young residents of Pilsen sometimes find themselves having to resort to violence, gang membership or carrying a weapon in order to feel safe in their community.
“The police are the only help, because without that you either have to protect yourself with something like a weapon, or your fist, or you end up walking down the street and always looking over your back,” Gallegos says.
While residents like Luis Caderales, 17 who attends Benito Juarez Community Academy states, “Everybody tends to know each other, and if you don’t talk smack you’re pretty much free to go where ever you want. “
Many residents feel hopeful that things will get better and crime will continually decrease.
Maria Hernandez, 28 of Pilsen says, “I think there are more people involved here, the church is involved, schools are involved, and I think we have more police in the area since Benito Juarez is right there and the neighborhood is becoming more diverse.”
For more data on crime in your area check out chicago.everyblock.com