Young men clad in black-and-red garb are hanging around Warren Park's toddler play lot in Rogers Park, and residents are worried that street gangs are expanding.
At Wednesday night's Beat 2412 CAPS meeting, several residents told Chicago police of their fears.
Police confirmed they see an increasing gang presence. Sgt. John Delgado says a "big shift" is happening.
"Gangs are marking out new territory. There is an influx of new people, older guys brought in to show the young people what to do," says Delgado, a 13-year veteran of the force who's spent the last two year in Rogers Park.
A "concerted effort" is needed to get rid of gangs. He says block clubs are an invaluable part of CAPS and was disappointed no block club members were present at Wednesday night's meeting.
But, Delgado also said, "unless a crime is committed there is nothing the police can do. Being in a gang is not a crime."
"Police presence works but it's a band aid for the problem," says Officer J. Pacocha, who is on the third watch. "We need your help."
Pacocha advised residents to call whenever they perceive a problem — even if it's graffiti or burnt out street lights. He noted that there are quite a few residents who report suspicious activity on their block.
The majority of calls are between 4 p.m. and midnight.
"Those calls have helped the police do their job," he said.
There's also been a rise in thefts and robberies in the community, and this was also discussed at the CAPS meeting.
To avoid becoming a victim, Delgado suggested staying aware of your surroundings and walking in groups. He said a few of the robberies happened to people who were talking on their cell phones.
He passed out a pamphlet on street safety and said a new two-tier street lighting system is being installed.
Beat 2412 ranges from Kedzie to Ridge and from Devon to Pratt.