Friday, September 28, 2012

UChicago Crime Report: Double shooting between 60th/61st and Cottage

At 10:45 AM, two young men were shot while standing in front of an apartment complex in between 60th and 61st Street on Cottage Grove. One of the victims was hit in the chest, the other in the lower back. Witnesses reported seeing the two other men fleeing the scene on bicycles.,0,7968097.story

The Tribune photo confirms that this incident actually took place at 60th and Cottage and not somewhere ten blocks south; the green dumpster in the parking lot, the one resting in front of a stairwell, is the same as in the apartment complex. So unlike my last report on UChicago area crime, this one won't be based on bad facts.

Although the UCPD issued no statement or notification regarding the incident, an argument could be made that it was not their responsibility. The shooting is outside of the UCPD patrol area. The victims are in no way affiliated with the University. The crime itself was reported to the CPD through a 911 call, not through the UCPD through our internal University number. These facts might suggest that our police force had no obligation to inform about this attack.

All of these arguments have the same problem: They are all technical, bureaucratic justifications for an oversight that could have very real, human consequences. Yes, the complex is outside of the patrol. But our campus officially "ends" on the east side of Cottage. The shooting happened on the west side of the street. Those 25 yards of concrete should not make a difference when it comes to safety. Similarly, even though the UCPD (presumably) has no involvement in the investigation, it still has a duty to inform community members of incidents that might threaten our safety.

61st and Cottage is not as remote an intersection as the University might have you believe. The #4 Bus has a stop right on the west side of Cottage, coming from downtown. This bus provides direct service from Michigan Avenue in the Loop straight to 61st and Cottage; a great way to get back to campus, especially if you live in the South Dorm. Similarly, numerous hospital and human resources employees use either the bus or train stops on Cottage. Employees in the area would undoubtedly appreciate some warning about criminal activity that could imperil their commute. Moreover, the #59 route goes right down 61st, passing through the intersection in question. I know for a fact that residents of the South Campus Dorm use that bus for transit to and from the Red Line. Students out on the town could make safer transportation decisions if they knew of local violence.

There is a clear objection to all of my above arguments. Some of you might already be thinking it: "How are shootings, presumably between criminals and/or gang members, going to threaten UChicago students?" There is some truth to this rebuttal. Gunmen care more about Rahm Emanuel's WiFi plans for Millennium Park than they do for UChicago students. You could dress a group of students in the colors of every Latino gang in the city, roll them into West Englewood, and the worst thing that would happen would be a lot of sad laughter and shaking heads (and maybe some stolen iPhones). When it comes to firearm battery, like today's incident, UChicago students will never be targeted.

The danger is not in being a target. The danger is in being nearby. Criminals, whether shooting for a gang, for a girlfriend, or for a dispute, are lousy shots. In Chicago, it is almost as dangerous to be a bystander than it is to be an actual target. Most attackers have as much firearms training as they give you in Call of Duty or Halo. Even if they are better prepared, shooters regularly load up on alcohol and drugs to psyche themselves up for their attack. Or they were just incidentally intoxicated to begin with. Either way, most shooters today are about as accurate as a Stormtrooper.

Whenever a shooting happens, a retaliatory shooting will likely follow. Police never know where that shooting will take place. They can make some guesses, but they won't know until it actually happens. You do not want to be in the area when a retaliatory shooting occurs. When tempers are high, accuracy is low. THIS is the danger that even UChicago students can face in violent engagements.

My mother has more old sayings than those inspirational books you see in pharmacies, and this is one of my favorites. In the case of the UCPD, a small notification can potentially prevent some serious harm. Yes, it might look bad for the University. Yes, it might cause undue panic amongst the naive first-years (and fourth years for that matter) who have no idea how Chicago's crime works. If, however, it reduces the chance for student endangerment, then it is probably worth those costs.

Certain crimes actually target students and UChicago community members. Robbery, burglary, theft, sexual assault, vandalism, etc. Other crimes, like aggravated battery with a firearm, do not. But you don't need to be a target to be a victim. Being nearby a shooting is almost as bad as being involved in one. 60th and Cottage is close enough to campus that some students and employees could be in that area if, or when, a retaliation occurs. Better communication can help inform the community and better insure its safety. The UCPD does a great job patrolling and preventing crime, but even an effective organization can find room to improve its practices.

1 comment :

  1. That is amazing! I had no idea about the various artifacts. I've only been to Chicago once and it was such a quck trip so there were no tours or sights. Maybe next time.
    "Chicago IT"