At last night's Salemtown Neighbors meeting, the Community Affairs Officer with the Central Police Precinct reported that crime, especially burglaries and car break-ins, is lately up in the North End. Over a week ago, I reported here that I have seen an increased police presence in Salemtown. Others mentioned at last night's meeting that they have noticed an increase in criminal activity in the neighborhood.
The officer attending last night's meeting offered an explanation why crime is up: with Metro tearing down the John Henry Hale Homes (located at 16th Ave. and Charlotte Pk. near Marathon Village) to build new single family homes and moving residents elsewhere, many displaced gang members and young men looking for trouble have been making their way into the surrounding neighborhoods, including Salemtown. (Incidentally, news reports yesterday tell us that a police officer was shot by a young man hiding in a closet during police sweeps of John Henry Hale Homes). Accordingly, proactive police patrols in the North End have been increased, including patrols by K-9 units to discourage illicit drug sales. A K-9 unit was on proactive patrol on 6th Ave. this past Sunday afternoon.
I asked a follow-up question concerning the Crime Scene Unit that I saw last Saturday on 5th Ave., which was originally reported by police as a response to a shooting. The officer corrected the original information that police gave me: the unit was not responding to a shooting on 5th. He said that there had been a shooting in the neighborhood that was currently under investigation, but it was not on 5th, and it was not a present threat to anyone else's security. He did not comment on why the unit was on 5th Saturday morning.
We are apparently facing more transition than usual in the North End, and our Neighborhood Watches will need to be even more vigilant than ever to prevent crimes. Neighbors should be reporting any suspicious or unusual activities to the police at 862-8600 (non-emergency) or 911 (emergency).