Chicago Police 17th District Commander Michael Mealer told an Albany Park community meeting Tuesday at Our Lady of Mercy parish hall that fears generated by a reported rape in Ronan Park and CTA Brown Line assaults were overblown. While admitting that some violent crime associated with the CAP districts near the Brown Line were up, Mealer noted that the increase was one crime over a base of four or five incidents of similar crime in 2009.
That could be interpreted, he noted, as a 20 to 25 percent increase in crime in those CAPs districts. “But in general crime is going down,” Mealer told the crowd of about 120 residents.
Mealer noted unofficial e-mails that share crime information create a sense of increased violence. He said as crime information is passed in this manner, the community acts to amplify the crime and compress time so that crimes that happen over a span of years appear to have all happened in a few weeks.
“We all played the telephone game in school,” Mealer said, “people add things to e-mails. But when we explore things we find things added to these e-mails. The community feels unsafe. It turns a minor incident into major incident.”
Mealer specifically addressed a rape reported by the Bulldog.
“There was a sexual assault that was reported by a woman that stated she was sexually assaulted in Ronan Park,” Mealer told the Bulldog, “the detectives determined that the incident did not occur in Ronan Park, it happened elsewhere.”
“She had personal reasons for not placing the incident where it actually occurred,” Mealer said.
Mealer said a rumor the woman was a prostitute was not true.
“We have no security concerns” for Ronan Park. “It’s not a problem park,” Mealer told the Bulldog.
The Bulldog asked the Commander about the incident, noting it was among the news outlets that reported on the rape. Mealer told the Bulldog the police realized the first report of the incident was wrong on Monday, April 12.
Mealer defended the initial e-mail blast that included the Bulldog, “we did the right thing. We weren’t sure and we wanted to make sure the community was secure. Now we have a problem, how do we let people know that things aren’t the way they are?”
During the meeting Mealer had repeated statements that three incidents, reported by the CenterSquareLedger and the Bulldog, were two incidents. In an exclusive interview Mealer noted that he was not aware of a third incident related to the Brown Line that was also reported by the Bulldog. That incident was reported in the 19th police district, he noted.
[The Bulldog has a set of ethical guidelines, which you the reader can see. These ethical guidelines dictate how the Bulldog reports all its stories. Each crime incident reported by the Bulldog was verified prior to being reported. That verification in the case of the Ronan Park rape included a Chicago Police Crime alert.]
The Brown Line Rockwell station is located at 4648 N Rockwell, Chicago, IL. The Brown Line Francisco station is located at 4648 N Francisco, Chicago, IL. Ronan Park is located at 3300 W Argyle, Chicago, IL. Our Lady of Mercy is located at 4432 N Troy, Chicago, IL.