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Kenwood: Safer Than Ever

Kenwood housing in the fall. Photo Credit: Warner Gardner
Kenwood housing in the fall.
Photo Credit: Warner Gardner

Chris Vega, 46, said he had never feared being the victim of crime while living in Kenwood.

Vega, a real estate agent, said everyone on his street is very communicative about neighborhood safety and added that there doesn’t seem to be many police officers patrolling the area.

“Every so often you see a cruiser or a University of Chicago cop, but really, there’s never a lot of police around,” said Vega.

Vega said he lives not far from the Kenwood home at 5046 S. Greenwood Ave., which is owned by President Barack Obama.

“I should feel safe,” Vega said. “I’ve got Obama’s Secret Service only a few streets away.”

Vega is one Kenwood resident among those interviewed Oct. 14 in an informal street survey about crime in the neighborhood. Residents said they were mostly confident about safety there. Many said they felt safe because of the police department’s panic buttons installed throughout the streets of Kenwood, as well as the increased security provided by the Secret Service around the Obama home.

There were 15 violent crimes such as robbery, battery, assault and sexual assault in Kenwood between Sept. 9 and Oct. 9., according to the Chicago Tribune.

In nearby Washington Park, 36 violent crimes occurred in the same time period, according to the Tribune. In neighboring Englewood, there were 96 violent crimes including 53 narcotic reports and two homicides during the same time, the Tribune reported.

“Our neighborhood is 50 times safer than nearby areas,” said Nigel Jerminski, a long-time resident of Kenwood and retired restaurant owner.

Jerminski said it feels safer than in prior years.

“I actually feel safer, maybe because of technology and connection,” he said.

Jerminksi said a man ran up to him on a street in Kenwood four years ago and demanded money. When Jerminski refused, the man seemed angry and told him he had a gun.

“He ended up running away,” Jerminski said. “I don’t know if he even had a gun or if he was just trying to scare me.”

Kenwood is north of Hyde Park with its northern boundary being 43rd Street. East Hyde Park Boulevard is its southern boundary, South Cottage Grove Avenue is its western boundary and Lake Michigan lies to the east, according to City-Data.

According to the Chicago Park District, Dr. John A. Kennicott settled in the area and named it after his mother’s birthplace in Scotland. It was annexed by Chicago in 1889. The neighborhood’s population declined from 1940-1960 when homeowners left, but the area saw a resurgence in the 1990s, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago.

Ever since, it has been associated with its fair share of ups and downs, especially with regards to crime and violence.

Pamela Baker, 34, said she has never been victimized by crime during the time she has lived in Kenwood, but she takes precautions to stay safe.

She said she doesn’t go out alone late at night or let her young children play outside by themselves.

“We just keep our wits about us, and I always am holding their hands,” she said.

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