Drug hot spot shut down at Laramie and Adams avenues, but community presence still needed

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Austin police successfully took down a drug hot spot at the corner of Adams and Laramie avenues last month, which resulted in 17 arrests, said police Cmdr. Barbara West (15th) at the district’s community stakeholder meeting Wednesday morning.

The police are still “actively searching” for another suspect, who has a warrant out for his arrest, West said.

West told the group, made up of more than 20 faith-based organizations, residents, community groups and Ald. Mike Chandler (24th), the police will continue to keep a police car at the corner to deter other drug dealers from moving into the location.

She added that police have been vigilant with issuing parking tickets and curfew violations within the 5200 block of West Adams Avenue to help curb disruptive behavior. And every Wednesday night in April, various faith leaders, along with Ald. Deborah Graham (29th), have held pray vigils on the corner.

“We need to make sure we continue to have a presence there,” West said.

The 5200 block of West Adams Avenue will hold its first official block club meeting Saturday to discuss how the local residents can assist in keeping the area nuisance-free once police presence moves to a different area.

“That will help maintain the block once you have a block club scheduled,” West said.

Chandler, who’s 24th Ward includes a portion of Austin, also encouraged the stakeholders to have a presence on their blocks and the rest of the community.

“We need to show we own the community,” Chandler said.

Representatives from the 15th District Police and the 29th Ward, along with the city’s Streets and Sanitation, Transportation and Water Management departments, will hold “Operation Clean” at Adams and Laramie avenues May 4.

Operation Clean delivers coordinated city services to high-crime areas to clean up abandoned buildings and cars, graffiti and broken street lights, among other fixes, to prevent conditions that can breed crime.

Anyone can come out on next Friday at 9:30 a.m. and help.

Despite progress within the 5200 block of West Adams Avenue, other community members at the meeting said more needs to happen at the corner of Mayfield Avenue and Madison Street.

Ron Reid, a member of Central Austin Neighborhood Association and resident, said he’s seen multiple young men selling drugs at the corner. Reid said there have been multiple shootings over the past months at Madison Street and Mason Avenue, and bullet holes are still visible in cars and homes in the area.

“We must have that corner addressed,” Reid said.

The various community stakeholders talked about the  constructive activities and programs for the youth and adults available in the community.

BUILD, a gang intervention organization that’s served Chicago for more than 40 years, is building its central headquarters in Austin across from Michele Clark High School. Currently, its headquarters is located at 1223 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The new facility in Austin is tentatively scheduled to open in mid-June, said BUILD’s Executive Director Roslind Blasingame-Bauford.

BUILD has a small presence in Austin right now. Programs are available to students at Frederick Douglass High School, but that will soon scale up once BUILD moves into the community.

Blasingame-Bauford said BUILD helps “young people who are slipping through the cracks” and looks forward to serving Austin.

West commended the group’s “proven efforts.”

“I read the annual report, and the numbers are very striking of people who graduated high school and are going to college,” West said.

The next community stakeholder meeting for the 15th Police District will be held on May 30 at 10 a.m. The location is still to be determined. For more information, call the Community Policing Office at 312-743-1495.

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