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Sauk Village Residents Say They Live In A “Danger Zone” « CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — In south suburban Sauk Village, neighbors are finding bullet holes in the sides of their homes and families are keeping children inside.

While the police chief wants to keep them safe, he may not have the manpower to do so.

CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos reports families are on edge with the recent violence. When she pulled up to a home for an interview, the grandmother cracked open the door, stuck her arm out, and waved her inside, claiming nobody is safe in her neighborhood.

Charlene Culbreath and her 14 grandchildren live in what they call a “danger zone,” saying they literally have had to dodge bullets.

“This is the bullet hole,” Culbreath said. “It came to this window. Upstairs there’s bullet holes.”

There are bullet holes on the next door neighbor’s house, as well as all over the boarded homes next to where children play on Carol Avenue in Sauk Village.

“Bullets don’t have eyes. I have already caught bullets in this house,” Culbreath said.

Charlene Culbreath’s grandkids have to play in the garage so they can quickly take cover if someone starts shooting.

Two people were killed on their block this year. The latest happened on Sunday.

“I am very upset and very scared for my grandkids and my life,” Culbreath said.

Chief Robert Kowalski said he is frustrated to hear homeowners say they’re scared to go outside.

“That hurts me. I take it very personally. That’s why I am trying to come up with as many solutions as I can,” Chief Kowalski stated.

He said he is adding around-the-clock patrols. He also wants to add surveillance cameras on Carol Avenue and on block streets to stop criminals from passing through before hitting I-394. He also wants to deploy saturation teams from outside agencies to help with low staffing.

According to the FBI, towns of a similar size of about 10,000 residents have an average of 34 officers. Sauk Village only has 18, which is down three from last year.

“The tax base is lower than it’s been in the past,” Kowalski said. “Once we start generating more tax dollars, we can hire more officers.”

“This area is too dangerous. I mean, Chief is doing the best he can, but he needs help,” said Culbreath.

The officers he has on the street are doing their best to keep families safe.

“They’ll never stop. I can rest assure that they’ll never stop,” said Kowalski.

The police chief said the department has a 100% clearance rate since 2011. 14 arrests have been made in the last 13 homicide cases.

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