Facing a council room of scared residents, Burbank Mayor Harry J. Klein blamed parents, city interlopers and the court system for the town’s uptick in gang violence during a city council meeting on Aug. 15.
After two gang-related shootings is as many weeks, 150 residents packed Burbank City Hall and demanded their local elected officials to “get these people out of our neighborhood.”
In the early morning hours of Aug. 2, outside a home on the 6400 block of West 86th Street. All four were treated at for non-life-threatening injuries.
The second shooting occurred around 10 p.m. Aug. 12, on the 8200 block of Lamon Avenue. Bullets hit two cars and a building. Burbank Police said the shooting was not random and believe that a person walking down the street to be the target of a drive-by shooting.
Both shootings occurred near Burbank grammar schools.
“I’ve been out here for 45 years and to be honest with you I’ve never seen this kind of activity,” Klein said. “I’m sorry it’s happening in the city of Burbank.”
The mayor told residents that the city’s gang officers are using every resource at their disposal, including a car-top camera that photographs license plates of vehicles driving through the community.
“We have a very, very keen awareness of what’s happening in your city,” Klein said. “No one is more frustrated in the last couple of days that the police chief and myself. He and I might as well be married to each other because I’ve been with him the last couple of days, literally for hours.”
Within the past month, Klein said that 15 shootings have occurred in the Fifth Municipal Court District, which includes the Bridgeview Courthouse, encompassing parts of Chicago’s Southwest Side and the near southwest suburbs.
Recent search warrants have turned up heroin, coke, cannabis, money and guns, and netted seven arrests, the mayor said.
According to Klein, gang members are alleged to live in “8 to 10 houses” in the community. The mayor said they know "who they are and where they live.
“But you just can’t go in there without probable cause,” Klein continued. “I read the Facebook like you guys read the Facebook, but you have to follow the law. Unfortunately gangbangers and people in the dope trade have better protection under the law than most of our good citizens.”
Burbank-resident Diane Aaron asked that since the police knew who the gang members were and where they live--why weren't residents allowed to know?
“Why don’t have pictures or our own little meeting,” she said. “Why aren’t they on the police blotter. We get no news whatsoever. The only reason we know what’s going on is from Facebook.”
Klein told the story of a 6-year-old girl whom he encountered at St. Albert the Great with her head bent in shame at her First Communion because her father’s name had appeared in a newspaper police blotter for a DUI a few weeks before.
“I vowed from that day forward that I’m not going to publish those things unless they impinge on public safety,” the mayor said. “We may not be as fast as you would want [posting police reports] on the website.”
Residents were advised to keep calling 911 if they saw anything suspicious. Gang officers gave residents their private cell phone numbers afterward “for those reluctant to give their names in a 911 call.”
The mayor agreed to hold a town hall meeting at a future date, but said they were “handcuffed by the courts” in rooting out gangs from Burbank.
The Chicago Crime Commission Gang Book (2012 edition) estimates number of active gang members in Burbank at 60, mostly from the Latin Counts and Ambrose gangs.
Asked if Burbank had ever considered community policing similar to Chicago’s CAPS programs, Police Chief Bruce Radowicz said that the city’s parks were under video surveillance.
“We urge all residents to call us and we’ll act on it,” Radowicz said. “They can’t enforce the law. I don’t want people to take unnecessary risk, that’s our job.”
The best thing residents can do is to check the Burbank Police website for the most accurate information—not misinformation on Facebook, the police chief said.
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