MILWAUKEE- A recent uptick in crime on Milwaukee's East Side has residents and business owners concerned for the neighborhood's future.
Residents packed Wednesday's town hall meeting at the East Library.
Violent crime is down 4 percent from last year on the east side, but property crime is up 17 percent, and police say women are being targeted.
Marlene Garacci has lived in the neighborhood most her life and this is the first time she's installing motion lights outside her property.
"We as neighbors got to watch out for ourselves. We're the only ones that are going to be able to do it. The police can't do everything," Garacci said.
Carrying pepper spray makes Pam Glorioso feel safer.
"Before I get out of the car I have it ready," said Glorioso, who owns a business on the east side.
"I think our police are doing what they can. It's helpful. It's just surprising and out of the ordinary now, knowing that all of this violence and mayhem is happening on Brady Street and on the East Side."
Third District Alderman Nik Kovac says people need to be aware, but not afraid.
"People need to be alert. People need to be aware. People need to be aware of their surroundings and call the police and let their neighbors know if they see anything suspicious. Stay in touch with their neighbors," Kovac said.
The Executive Director of the East Side Business Improvement District, Jim Plaisted, brought up the neighbors' other main concern, aggressive panhandling.
"It's been the worst summer for panhandling and aggressive panhandling and public drinking that we can remember here on North Avenue," Plaisted said.
City leaders also talked about their longterm plans to deal with both panhandling and crime, but for now they say there is a bigger police presence on the east side.
Residents are asked to call the non-emergency police number if anyone sees something suspicious, 414-933-4444. If there is an emergency, call 911.