Alderman claims “great results” from Cannon Drive parking ban, but statistics show her boast is bunk

The 2400 block of North Cannon Drive in Lincoln Park. | Google

A Lincoln Park alderman Friday said the three-week ban on overnight parking along Cannon Drive has produced “great results” and implied the restrictions are responsible for a drop in “serious crime.”

Unfortunately for Ald. Michele Smith, the city’s own statistics show her claims are not true. In fact, crime along Cannon Drive was at its lowest point in nearly 20 years when a lakefront shooting prompted the city to ban parking on the street between Fullerton and Diversey.

In an email newsletter item headlined, “Great Results on Cannon Drive,” Smith told constituents:

From January 1 until July 26, 2019 (before the restrictions began), police documented 18 serious crimes, from car break-ins to assaults, culminating in the shooting of seven people on the lakefront on July 20. These numbers do not include numerous instances of police breaking up parties and other disturbances that did not result in arrests.

Since the parking restrictions have taken effect there have been only two thefts and one battery (a fight on a docked boat in the harbor that resulted in an arrest).

First things first. According to city data, there was only one “serious” crime along Cannon Drive this year before parking restrictions went into place. A couple reported that someone pulled a gun on them near Fullerton Parkway shortly after 1 a.m. on June 9th.

Cannon Drive crime was at a 19-year low before the parking ban.

All of the other crimes that the alderman called “serious,” were not. There was one car stolen. Another car was damaged (probably during a break-in). And all of the other crimes were thefts—likely from parked vehicles.

Even if the alderman’s characterization of the crimes reported was true, her numbers do not represent a decline in crime at all. She said there were 18 crimes during the first 30 weeks of the year and three crimes in the three weeks since the parking restrictions were rolled out. So, there was one crime every eleven days before the restrictions and one crime every seven after. That sounds like an increase.

Statistics from the city’s data portal show crime on Cannon Drive was actually at a 19-year low through July 26th. So, there really was no Cannon Drive crime wave to begin with.

Since July 26th, there have been three crimes, Smith said. That is in line with previous years.

What’s notable about the post-parking restriction number is that it’s not even lower. Records show that the vast majority of crime on Cannon Drive is theft from vehicles, theft of cars, and damage to vehicles. So, one might expect crime to drop significantly once cars are prohibited from being there seven hours a day.

Gathering Spot

Ald. Michele Smith | Twitter

The mistake the alderman is making is simple. Police want to ban parking on Cannon Drive to prevent people from setting up car parties and hanging out all night. That’s because a series of disturbances on Cannon preceded the lakefront shooting on July 20th. But you can’t justify a parking ban with feelings.

So, she went for some statistics. And, so far, they show neither a decrease in crime nor any indication that late-night partiers were responsible for a rise in criminal activity before the ban.

The only measure of success the alderman and police executives have is that there hasn’t been a shooting on Cannon Drive since the parking restrictions began. Of course, there hasn’t been a shooting on Cannon Drive since 2012, so going three weeks without one is hardly notable.

Smith’s office did not respond to an email for comment on Friday.

Editor’s note: Smith’s email stated there were 18 crimes on Cannon Drive this year before the parking restrictions began. City data shows there were seventeen. Our chart reflects the city’s data. 

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets.