South 'burbs see more crime as Chicago rate drops

October 3, 2011 2:47:33 PM PDT
Criminal activity has apparently been rising in the south suburbs, according to Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

After hearing Chicago police reports of a sharp reduction in crime in the city, ABC7 wanted to know if there was a corresponding impact on cases coming into the court system. Alvarez says a larger share of her office's workload is coming from other locales.

"We're very busy and we really have the same amount of cases that we've had before," she said.

Alvarez says her office had not reviewed the numbers to confirm the reported sharp decline in criminal cases originating in Chicago.

Last week, Superintendent Garry McCarthy said a two-month-long trend continued in August and September, during which the city's crime rate was 20 percent below the same period a year ago.

McCarthy even said he saw no immediate need to hire more cops.

"We shouldn't hire another police officer until such time as we reach peak efficiency," he said.

But Alvarez says if the crime rate and need for law enforcement is less in Chicago, there has been no reduction in the number of criminal cases her office handles from elsewhere in the county.

"In the past several years, we've seen an increase in the amount of cases we have gotten, particularly from the southern suburbs," she said.

"They're coming here from the city," said Clara Truchon, Riverdale.

Truchon and Eric Jackson live in south suburban Riverdale, where they've noticed a sharp increase in crimes ranging from burglary to homicide. Jackson said he was held at gunpoint in his own driveway.

"He tried to rob me, put a shotgun in my face," he said. "Right here in my driveway."

"Somebody two years ago broke into my car," Truchon said. "They didn't take anything, but they got into my car. And they went through everything that was in my car."

The movement of city residents to south suburban communities accelerated during the past decade as public housing projects in Chicago were demolished, and more recently during the foreclosure crisis.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked to comment on the apparent movement of criminal activity from the city to the southern suburbs.

"I'm responsible for the city of Chicago," he said. "And I'm responsible for what happens to the taxpayers of the city of Chicago and the residents to make sure that they're safe."

Superintendents have credited their strategy of putting more cops on the beat for the city's lower crime rate. To hear the folks in Riverdale tell it, the city doesn't have as many as criminals as it once had.

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