While Lake View is widely considered to be one of Chicago’s safest neighborhoods, one of the community’s better-known problem areas is now being linked to one of Chicago’s largest and most deadly gangs.
According to research by the Chicago Police Department, the city blocks surrounding the corner of Belmont and Sheffield avenues are home to the Gangster Disciples, the city’s largest gang. More specifically, the eight-block territory is between Roscoe Street on the north, Barry Avenue on the south, Clark Street on the east and Kenmore Avenue on the West, according to WBEZ’s interactive map.
A recent “gang audit” looked at police statistics and talked with residents and gang experts to discover what gangs are present, where they hang out and who they’re currently in conflict with. While the results from the most recent gang audit have yet to be made fully public, WBEZ's map is based on information from 2010.
It’s the only gang-related territory in Lake View, according to the map, but as Business Insider reports, the Gangster Disciples have been linked to more than a quarter of Chicago’s murders in 2012.
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Community Policing Sgt. Beth Giltmier, with CPD’s 19th District on Addison Street, says the epicenter of the gang problem on the North Side is around the corner of North Broadway and Wilson Avenue in Uptown. However, she says she can’t comment on what specifically CPD is doing to combat the problem so as not to give out too much detailed information.
“We can’t really show our hand on (what we’re doing to fight gangs) because that would defeat the point,” Giltmier said. “But we give it more attention than any other issues. … Any time you have any kind of gang activity, residents living there need to be aware of that.”
Giltmier says the 19th district partners with police as far north as the 24th district in Rogers Park to get a handle on gang-related crimes, and they recognize the area surrounding Belmont and Shefflied as a hot spot. Commander Elias Voulgaris has even ordered more officers to patrol the area in an attempt to lower crime rates.
As for residents living near the territory, Giltmier says it’s incredibly important that they call 911 if they see any gang-related activates, or if a group simply looks intimidating. Whether someone sees a large gathering of suspicious looking people, an entire group wearing a similar color or people throwing out gang signs, call 911 right away.
And it’s not just Lake View that should be aware of gang activity in the North Side. Neighboring community Roscoe Village has a large territory that’s home to the Insane Deuces gang, while the Latin Kings and Black P Stone occupy almost all of Uptown.
CPD Chief of Organized Crime Nicholas Roti spoke with WBEZ after releasing the gang maps, and according to their report, releasing them to the public is considered a double-edged sword. While it helps area police and residents identify potential problem areas, he says it could be used for the wrong reasons.
"We don't want to either glorify a gang or maybe unintentionally cause a gang rift," Chief Roti told WBEZ. "You (a gang member) could look at a map and say, 'They got way more territory than us.'”
Check out the full map of Chicago on WBEZ’s website.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on Oct. 23.