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Police: ‘Things worked out better than expected’ at Puerto Rican Festival

Updated: July 20, 2012 6:21AM

Even though fewer cops patrolled this year’s Puerto Rican Festival in Humboldt Park, crime associated with the event was down almost 50 percent compared with last year, Chicago Police officials said.

Organizers of the four-day event that ended Sunday took the advice of police officials and surrounded the festival with a fence.

The department only needed to post officers at the four access points along the fence instead of around the entire perimeter of the festival as in previous years, Deputy Chief John Escalante said.

A mix of private security officers and Chicago Police officers patrolled the park during the festival, authorities said.

Escalante said far fewer officers worked the festival this year, but he would not give the exact number.

This year, police didn’t make any arrests or write any tickets inside the festival area, compared with 19 arrests and tickets last year, Escalante said. In a roughly 160-block area surrounding the festival, two people were shot this year compared with six people in 2011, Escalante said. In the same area, there were 55 “documented crimes associated with the festival” this year, compared with 108 last year.

“Things worked out better than anticipated,” said Escalante, who added that long-term police crackdowns on the Maniac Latin Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Imperial Gangsters and Latin Kings probably contributed to less gang activity surrounding this year’s event.

Larry Ligas of Logan Square Concerned Citizens said he thinks the event is getting safer because gangs are migrating west
of Humboldt Park and
Logan Square as the areas gentrify.

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