Police District 021 merger (mostly) into District 002 proposed October 2011

Presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. Written by Gary Ossewaarde

Hot Topics. Quality of Life Hot Topics. Community Safety. Public Safety home and Safety Tips. Crime Latest. University and Student Safety. CAPS. WhistleStop. Home

Meetings.

June 19, Tuesday, 6 pm. Public Safety meeting at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. South Shore Drive. Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and 2nd Dist. Police Cmdr. Fred Waller (2nd District Police) will focus on neighborhood safety/security at a meeting scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. Shore Dr. They will provide updates and seek feedback on actions taken since a May 29th meeting. Hairston said she has been in contact with the Chicago Park District regarding complaints about disturbances on its parking lot and land at 55th & S. Shore Dr. She also hopes to facilitate more coordination between city and University of Chicago police.

Calling District 002 (when 911 is not appropriate--911 is appropriate whenEVER you "see something")
312-747-8366.

Several have raised questions in late May about satisfactory new beats, strategy for the lakefront summer, and performance of some officers. This came up after a holiday weekend of incidents and a community meeting called by Ald. Hairston May 29 2011.

Shocker? While police did not promise that merging district 21 into 2 in 2011 would not result in fewer patrols, the drop of 79 is more than double the drop or attrition in any other district, including 3rd and including the two others merged. Are there any effects, and where is the district on homicide and shootings, esp. Washington Park, which has had some bad ones lately.

Crime is again in the forefront due to Memorial Weekend shootings and unruly crowds on South Shore Drive 54th to 56th. At a meeting May 29 called by Ald. Hairston, Commander Waller outlined strategies for force in numbers (and on bikes) at crunch points on the lakefront, starting early to turn back crowds. Ald. Hairston will be meeting with buildings on these and related questions such as police diligence since the district merger and parcing of scarce parking.

HERE ART THE NEW BEAT BOUNDARIES, MEETING DATES/PLACES AFFECTING HPK

New boundaries and meeting times for merged District 002. Effective April, 2012

Beats covering or including Hyde Park and Kenwood proper:

222- 43rd to E. Hyde Park (51st), Ellis to the Lake.

223- 47-51st King to Ellis.

233- 51st-55th King to Woodlawn (55th to 60th- e. boundary is Cottage).

234- E. Hyde Park Blvd. (51st) to 55th , Woodlawn to the Lake.

235- 55th to 61st Cottage to the Lake except Jackson Park (District 3, b. Stony, 56th), Cottage/61st to Dorchester then Midway to Stony.

 

Meetings covering/including Hyde Park and Kenwood: All start at 6:30 pm.

222- 2nd Tuesday at Kennicott Park fieldhouse, 4434 S. Lake Park.

223- with 221 3rd Tuesday at King Center, 4314 S. Cottage Grove.

233, 234, and 235 - 3rd Wednesdays at Hyde Park Neighbaorhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood.

In early October, 2011, the Chicago Police Department announced the likelihood of merging all but the northern tip of District 021 Prairie into District 002 Wentworth (hq. at 51st and Wentworth). (It was clear the public was being told, not asked (Two other districts in other parts of the city will also be merged. Also the 5 managing and detective Areas will be downsized into 3, each supervising different numbers of districts.) Initial reaction was shock and a sense that once again decisions were being made without hearing the wisdom of residents and stakeholders. It was denied that this is driven by cost consideration, but many did not accept this or think that at the least such a large change could not occur without disruptions and mistakes. Reasons given were that 021 one of the smallest districts, with lower crime than those adjacent, and is among the highest in staff.
The move was proposed in the city budget released in late October, and the budget was passed November 16.

As of the start of November, Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and Leslie Hairston (5th) said they were ready to sign on, seeing no reason to oppose and expressing confidence in Cdr. Fred Weller of District 002. But Ald. Burns continued to have reservations. Police continue to be vague on the increase in officers and effectiveness, and of course will not give names. There is no plan to hire additional officers by the Department. Report coming on the November 2 public meeting at Rodfei Zedek.

At a public meeting November 1, various staffing and distribution of officers was distributed by a group present but was these numbers were disputed by the police at the November 2 meeting (particularly that combined staffing would be 375). Those given at the Nov. 2 meeting are given below. Police noted at the November 2 meeting that under union rules and because many of the administrative officers are older, many can choose to move to another district or retire. They added that the Mayor and Superintendent are committed in any case to bring in additional officers to maintain the proposed staffing numbers. Concern was expressed that if substantial numbers do leave, many beats will lose continuity with officers knowledgeable and proficient in the local conditions and people and in whom people have confidence. The same may well happen with the reconfiguration and resizing of the beats to fit current conditions and population losses and shifts-- something that appallingly has not been done for 50 years and common sense says should be done in any case-- but there could be short-term disruptions. Also coming regardless is more intense and efficient ongoing analysis of trends and changing crime patterns. (One major concern raised was that this is the only consolidation involving a rate of violent crime near 1000 per (?) (in the 2nd district) vs the other two consolidations where that figure per district is about 400. Still, there are some districts where the rate is much higher than 1000.)

Alderman Burns's position, stated at the end of the November 2 meeting, was: The beat re-alignment needs to be an open process, Community Policing has to be strengthened, the tactical units have to understand each area and its demographics and diversity, including past experience with profiling and underpatroling parts of the city. He expressed concerns about the ability and value of some who have long held administrative positions to now effectively patrol on the street and the need in any case to have sufficient and right numbers of reserves and officers in the city.
(Incidentally, among maps and statistics distributed November 2 was one chart showing a steady increase of officers over the past 60 years. In 1955, the Chicago population was 3.6 million an officer 9,598 while in 2010 the population was 2.695 million and the officers 13,784 (vacancies were not compared).)

 

Statement from Alderman William D. Burns regarding the proposed closure of the 21st District.

Ald. Burns and others had a great deal of skepticism and certainly wanted a voice in how the new beats are drawn and how the force of the two districts integrated or kept in place. On Nov. 30, 2011, Ald. Burns said in the Herald he now supports and seeks to make the change work.

"On Oct. 12 of this yer, Mauyor Rahm Emanuel announced his intention to consoledate three police districts to reduce the total number of police districts from thwnty-five to twenty-two. Included in the consolidation plan was the 21st Diostrict which serves the Hyded Park, Kenwood, North Kenwood-Oakland, Douglas and Gap communities. I initially expressed strong reservations regarding the proposal. In the weeks betweenthe mayor's budget address and final council action on the budget, four community meetings were held throughout the ward where the administration and the Chicago Police Department addresed the community on the consolidation plan. As a consequence of those meetings and the commitments made by the administration I decided to offer my support for the plan. These are the following commitments that have been made by the administration:

  1. The 21st District will be converted into a Park district field house for Dunbar Park.
  2. Management of tthe Chicago Police Department wil allow beat oficers and other CPD personnel who currently work in the 21st district to remain in the district - including CAPS beat officers.
  3. The consolidation of the two districts will result in the deployment of twenty additional police officers.
  4. The beats of the newly consolidated 2nd district will be realigned will more efficiently align police resources with people, crime, and public safety concerns.
  5. The Police Department will participate in additional community meetings as the consolidation moves forward next year.

Finally, I have confidence in Superintendent Garry McCarthy's strategies to reduce crime. The Superintendent has a proven track record from both New York City and New Jersey."

November 2 public meeting at Congregation Rodfei Zedek.


November 2 meeting figures (given verbally)

21st District Current staffing- 234 officers.
Officers per 1000 pop. (12th of 25) 2.7

2nd District Current staffing- 299 officers
Officers per 1000 pop. (2nd of 25) 5.6

Consolidated (less part north of 31st St. going to 1st district)- 489
Officers per 1000 pop. (6th of 22) 3.5

This meeting was convened by Alderman Burns, 53rd TIF Advisory Council, Coalition for Equitable Community Development, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, SOUL, South East Chicago Commission. Presiding Howard Males of the TIF. Ald. Burns. For the police and the Mayors Office was Felicia Davis, first deputy chief of staff for public safety to the Mayor (a former CPD officer) and Area 1 Deputy Chief Wayne Gulliford.

Burns reiterated that this was not his recommendation: "This is a serious concern. I think that it's very important that [they] hear directly from you."

Davis emphasized that the Mayor is committed to transparency regarding the consolidation. She gave no reason to think this is not a done deal, but will be done carefully.

She stressed that the current district and beat configuration follows out-of-date population data- indeed, the beats have not been redrawn since the 1960s. Whereas at the October 17 meeting, the audience was led to believe the beat boundaries and officers would remain mostly as they are, at this meeting the audience was told that redrawing the beats is a major purpose: Davis said, "This consolidation give us the opportunity to right-size those beats and make sure that your beats are reflective of the crime trends that you're facing right now." Deputy Gulliford said the number officers will be proportionally the same (by area or population?) but redistributed-- (meaning many will blocks NOT have the same persons-- which may be increased by opt-outs and retirements). the district is currently the 2nd most heavily staffed but well down in crime (partly because of U of C patrol?)

The audience this time was considerably smaller, but asked more questions and sometimes seemed more hostile. Many felt questions were not addressed, but others felt that this was a change that could be worked within.

Alderman Burns at the end stressed the following: the beat redrawing has to be an open process. CAPS has to be strong. The tactical units and others have be sensitized to the diversity and complexity of each part of the district and to history of problems with profiling. The number officers has to be truly sufficient and of effective equivalence--aging administrators may not be effective on the street and the recruits replacing those leaving or retiring have to be brought up to par with the community's special needs. There is a history, he said, of underpatroling the South Side.

In early November, Burns was still unsure whether he could support the change. Many knowledgeable about the issue going back several months and at the various recent meetings, including Burns, felt that the city and police department had at times not been truthful and others bandied about wildly differing numbers about likely staffing numbers and beat changes.

 

On October 17, one of the first public meetings was held with new Supt. McCarthy and several local and PD staff was held, convened by Ald. Will Burns as his monthly 4th Ward Meeting.
Burns, statement ahead of the meeting was that he would not support the without without full assurances of effective and official coverage:

Yesterday, October 11, 2011 I was notified by Superintendent Garry McCarthy and the Mayor's Office of the plan to close the 21st District police station and merge the majority of the district into the 2nd District. For several weeks rumors had circulated about the planned closing with no confirmation from the Police Department or the Mayor's Office.

Public safety is a critical issue to the residents of the 4th Ward, and closing the 21st District is a major public policy decision.

This decision must be vetted, not just by me, but by the residents, business leaders, and community based organizations.

I have received little information about the number of police who would be reallocated to the new 2nd District. I don't know how the beats within the 21st District will be realigned or managed.

More to the point, I am unclear on how the Administration will maintain the 21st District's current low crime rates and reduce crime in the 2nd District.

Because of the questions I have about this proposal and the concerns of residents in the ward
I do not support the closing of the 21st District.

Please let me know what you think.

Please email me at ward04@cityofchicago.org

or call me at 773.536.8103.

At the packed meeting October 17 at St. Paul and the Redeemer, city media present, McCarthy gave a detailed description of the plan and his policing philosophy and assured the audience that the current beat system would remain in place, with gradual improvements and efficiencies, with the officers kept there and held fully accountable. Respect, efficiency, and listening to the community would be top priorities. Through the merger and other steps, more officers would be on the street, and would not be moving resources from "safer"to "high crime" areas (pushing on the balloon). He also promised to take account of different concerns and cultures between the various communities and between the 021st and 002nd. (A further report is coming later.)

Some people simply would not buy any of it. Many asked via cards and then by lining up to be heard, detailed questions and serious concerns, including "why us, again," "we are not safe now, even in the best areas," and "just as we are making progress in convincing businesses and people to come here?". "Voices will be diluted." Many felt that at least some of the questions were poorly answered and unanticipated, and he does not yet know the area and its peculiarities. McCarthy admitted that all the details have not been worked out. And it was very clear there is some kind of feud going on between the city and University Police, which has recently cut its staff severely, especially at the leadership level. How much involves pushing off responsibility on the UC Police

 

Herald coverage of the October 17 4th Ward Meeting. Sam Cholke, October 19 issue.

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy made his case Oct. 17 at a community meeting for combining the 21st and 2nd police districts, a plan that was met with skepticism in the community. "It seems like one of these things that just makes sense," McCarthy told the more than 100 people at the 4th Ward meeting. McCarthy said allowing the relatively small 2nd District to absorb the 21st would result in an increase of 20 new officers and create a patrol area commensurate with others in the city. It also shaves $5 million from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's budget for 2012, released last week.

"I still feel like you are taking something from our streets," said Evonne Taylor, the last of dozens to speak at St. Paul and the Redeemer Church on Monday night. "And why is it always our neighborhood that carries these compromises?"

McCarthy said it wasn't about money but about improving the business of policing Chicago. "I didn't say anything about this to save money," he replied to Taylor. "The mayor asked if i would do this if it had absolutely nothing to do with the budget. I said, absolutely yes."

The current 21st District patrols most of Hyde Park and Kenwood east of Cottage Grove Avenue and extends west at 35th Street to cover the Oakland and Douglas neighborhoods. The 2nd District, which patrols Grand Boulevard and Washington Park, would absorb all of the 21st except a tendril that extends into Chinatown. The new 2nd District would border the Dan Ryan Expressway on the west, the lake on the east, 31st Street on the north and 61st Street on the South.

"It would give [2nd District Commander Fred] Waller more resource to attack the issues in our communities," McCarthy said. "From a business standpoint, which is how we run police departments these days, it really makes sense."

Commander Waller said his officers have a good relationship with the officers in the 21st District and they have worked together closely to address the issues along the current Cottage Grove boundary. "Why could we not go to Woodlawn or Drexel to get these guys that are causing trouble? That's how I always thought about it," Waller said about the expanded territory after the meeting. "And additional resources would be great."

The 21st District station is a two limestone structure at the north end of Dunbar Park at 300 E. 29th St. Its officers would move to the 2nd District headquarters, a squat brick building at the western edge of the district at 5101 S. Wentworth Ave.

Commander Richard Elmer headed the 21st District until last month when he retired. At the time, Elmer anticipated that he would be replaced. "It could be someone in the station, it could not be," Elmer said during an August interview. "I don't have a choice in who will take over my spot at all. It's a matter of whoever the superintendent thinks is the best person."

Under Elmer, the district's crime stats fell to the third lowest in the city. January through August, the district reported 2,305 crimes; 60 percent were thefts. The district was the eighth lowest for violent crimes, with 394 reported incidents. The lowest district repotted 230 violent incidents; the highest district, 1,531 incidents. Across all categories, the 21st District ranks one of the lowest in crime for the first eight months of this year.

McCarthy said the low crime rate and small patrol area drove the decision to close the district.

The 21st District's terrain is heavily policed -- getting double protection from the University of Chicago's private police force. The university's officers patrol an area from East Pershing Road to East 64th Street east of cottage Grove Avenue. Crimes occurring in the 21st District that are reported to the university police are reflected in teh 21st District's statistics.

The decision to transfer more of Hyde Park to another district coincides with a push by McCarthy to give local police commanders greater discretion. "The district is the backbone of crime reduction," McCarthy said at [a] meeting last month to residents in the 2nd District's patrol area. "Is it the building or the cops? The answer is the cops."

The new district would have the combined force of two districts, pushing it to the second highest staffed in the city, but also the law enforcement problems of two districts to address. "The issue is when you combine the districts, you get both all the efficiencies and all the inefficiencies," said resident Karl Bradley, adding that he is already concerned that the district's boundaries are not as consistently well protected as the center or areas near district headquarters.

Superintendent McCarthy was asked several times if the decision was already made or could it be reversed. "I don't think anything is written in stone, but this is a proposal I made to the mayor and I don't know where the process goes going forward," McCarthy said. "It has some budget impact and that's why it was presented when it was." The mayor's budget relies on savings from the district consolidations. The police department wil also eliminate the Wood and Belmont station houses and reduce the detective districts to three from one.

Ald. Will Burns is not yet supporting the proposal. "I have to continue talking to people in the community," he said after the meeting, adding that increasing the number of officer was alluring but needed to be checked out. "The process has to be transparent and the community has to be involved." Burns will have an opportunity to vote on the mayor's budget, but the district consolidation will not be voted on by City Council.

 

A quick record of the October 17 4th Ward Meeting on the police station closure, by Gary Ossewaarde (HPKCC board member)

Superintendent McCarthy said the result will be 20 more officers on the street. He said there are big differences among the district. The 21st and 2nd are among the smallest in square mileage (both under 5 sq. mi.), each supporting a building and its costs while their reported incidents are among the smallest- 2nd is 19thof 25, 21st is 23rd of 25. Under the change, the 2nd would be in the middle on land coverage (13th), middle on crime incidents (10th) and 2nd highest in staffing. He asserted that as a result of the increased staff to coverage ratio, response time would go down and there would be more resources to attack specific issues. He said the detective areas would be reduced from 5 to 3, with a more appropriate number of districts in each.

McCarthy stressed the importance of "beat integrity"-- keeping the present cops on each beat and on the street and holding each strictly accountable. He said he would not be moving the cops around as a result, nor would they be "pushing on the balloon" with fewer beats and "reserves" rushing from one hot spot to the next. Teh measures he stressed were accountability, stable policing, and covering all the district well. One means of accountability would be weekly statistics strategy meetings and log analyses meetings-- who did what, where, and how fast. Thus they would work to optimize the beats, covering each block appropriately given that the geography has changed--elimination of much public housing, more low density mixed income, population loss etc. There will be a single of what was called district advisory councils. He stressed that the quality of life issues will continue to be addressed.

The superintendent talked much about running departments as businesses and means to efficiency and what makes sense.

Questions and answers:
They are simplifying officers report forms.
Calls are triaged for urgency. They will be refusing certain calls that should go to 311 or are not "police work" or will simply "take a report."
They compare records with the same dates and periods going back two years.
When they "take back" a street or corner, they will institute actions so it cannot be taken back. This will involve citizens and groups-organizations.
Concern was expressed about particular areas such as Oakwood-Mandrake Park and lack of resources there, or Lakefront coverage while others said they do not feel secure in even the lower crime sections of Kenwood and Hyde Park.
The Supt. repeatedly said the changes were not driven by budget-- he would make the changes anyway, then would refer to savings of up to $5 million and that the timing was in part driven by budget impact.
It was noted that even though the 2nd Distr. building is considerably larger than the 21st, the waiting area is currently often crowded-- someone said it's in "deplorable condition".
Asked about security for school children, the Supt. agreed that that is absolutely part of their job, ditto for CHA residents.
Many were concerned about culture differences-- between and within neighborhoods and between officers and administration of the two districts. The latter was played down by the Supt. and other police administrators present and stressing diversity an history of community participation) including Commander Waller (2nd, will be the combined commander).
Some said officers are not respectful and the practice of community policing and listening to residents is often weak. McCarthy agreed that there is a program called community policing but it is not the guiding philosophy of the department, but officers are respectful and work out issues in meetings. He said respect has the the basis of police responsibility-- this is a long-term effort and takes time. He said community organizations and organizing is weak in much of the South Side-- coalitions of faith, schools, parents, civic, and business groups have to work with police and take on some of the burden (example: returning a child out after curfew to a crack or abusive parent may be counterproductive-- what alternatives should be in place- catchment centers? All need to be involved in law enforcement.
People asked for better access to whether reports are accurate, have been passed up, and what actions were taken.
Several were visibly skeptical and asked why the South Side always has to make the sacrifices and get less service.

To think about: (Thanks to HPKCC President Jane Ciacci and Safety/WhistleStop Co-chair Timika Hoffman-Zoller for suggesting or inspiring some of these:

What do you think of the idea that policing is now a business, with efficiency the top determinant of strategy? Do "serve and protect" and respect mean as much today? Are there ways to bring these back in in a day of budget cuts and deployment by computer?

Will the resources really go both to make sure all are protected, everywhere and to where most effective?

How do we measure if this change (or policing in general) is working, improving things-- what are the best measures- numbers of cops? their density, crime statistics and trends, amount of "community policing"?

The Superintendent said communities have to be organized better and the various agencies, faith-based communities, community organizations (and parents and families) have to be brought into enforcement-- if police have to nowadays do things others used to, the the others have to get involved in policing and serving in ways that reduce what needs policing in the first place? How can this be done without betraying those who may go to these others for sanctuary and to survive outside the criminal justice system?

The closure of the 21st District appears to be, “a done deal.” The community should know what will be the timeline for implementation.

What is the Police District Advisory Council that was brought up by the Supt. and in a question? Is that CAPS? In addition, will the 4th Ward’s new police district implement the EAVI (Expanded Anti-Violence Initiative?) http://bc52plus.weebly.com/caps--eavi.html like other Districts have been utilizing?

What is the present ratio of officers per square mile and per person in the 4th Ward? What will be the ratio in the 4th Ward after the 21st District closure? Ditto for populations comparison (2nd has lost more people than 21st.)

If there is an increase of police officers in the 4th Ward, after the closure of the 21st District, where will the additional officers be assigned?

What about the boundaries and edges-- help Cottage Grove/Washington Park and 35th, maybe diminish or harm along Jackson Park and between UC and Woodlawn? And what difference does distance from the station make? Many still remember when there was a police station on Lake Park Ave. right here in Hyde Park. It would still be at least a 2-bus ride to the district station.

Will UCPD's patrol area change and will UCPD continue to patrol north of 55th Street after the 21st District closes? Members of the University of Chicago’s community periodically receives “Security Alerts.” However in the alerts, UCPD does not always site crimes committed north of 55th Street.
How will CPD alert the 4th Ward community to crime spikes?

And it seems UC is moving to rent-a-cops-- will this create a culture clash, esp. with 2nd District patrolmen?

What Supt. McCarthy released October 14

Supt CPD Garry McCarthy


Since my appointment as Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department,
I have sought to streamline operations and create a more efficient
Department while maintaining the high level of police service and
professionalism for which this Department is known.

Every change has
been made with the dual purpose of giving officers what they need to do
their jobs safely, efficiently, and to the best of their abilities, as
well as providing for the safety of our communities and the people of
this city.

Initial changes included
eliminating levels in the command structure and
restoring the position of First Deputy Superintendent. Several
additional changes were announced in Mayor Emanuel’s 2012 proposed
budget notably that over the course of the next few months, the
Department will undergo a major restructuring.

Among the changes is the
merger of several Police and Fire specialized units, the relocation of
CFD administrative offices into CPD headquarters, and the consolidation
of area commands, patrol districts and detective areas.

The proposed
budget also provides for the hiring of two classes of recruits in 2012.

Following the restructure, the Department will consist of
three Area commands:

North, Central and South
Wood (13th), Belmont (19th) and Prairie (21st) Districts will be consolidated as follows:
Wood(13th) will be consolidated with the Monroe (12th) District;
Belmont (19th) will be consolidated with the Town Hall (23rd) District
Prairie (21st) will be consolidated with the Central (1st) and Wentworth Districts.

It has not yet been determined how the Area buildings
will be consolidated.

This consolidation plan will create a strong and sustainable
organizational structure, allowing officers to perform their duties more
effectively and with less bureaucracy. Additional officers will be freed
up by the merger of administrative functions meaning more boots on the
ground working in districts.

At this time, there are several items that remain undetermined,
including the timeline for implementation. Discussions about this are
ongoing.

I am confident that this reorganization will help us continue the crime
reductions we have achieved in recent months and will increase public
safety within our communities.

As part of the budget process, the City Council will review the Mayor’s
proposed budget over the course of the next few weeks. During this time,
I will present the Department’s budget to the Budget Committee and
outline its merits and the public safety advances we will achieve with
its implementation.

I will do my best to keep Department members informed as the process
moves forward and details are finalized. This is an exciting time for
the Chicago Police Department and I am proud to share in it with all of
you.


Here is a set of online concerns and opinions, starting several days before the Oct. 17 meeting.

These are from a blog by Michael Hoke and are responses by various persons.

"This was discussed many years back and at the time many of us believed it made sense. It will not impact basic police services and will allow police officers working in administrative duties to be reassigned to field duties. I believe that the Hyde Park/Kenwood community will become part of the 3rd District and that station is located at 71st & Cottage Grove Avenue. The reason I believe it will be 003 and not 002 is the University is expanding south into Woodlawn and that is part of 003 and the hierarchy pays attention to their thoughts. Officers from 003 can be seen dining all through Hyde Park daily.

It is my belief that when they close down 013, 019 and 021 that the boundaries of almost every district in Chicago will be moved somewhat but the number of beat cars will go up not down.

The current buildings housing 013 and 021 should of been condemned many years back.

The bottom line is the City needs to find savings and this makes sense."

 

"I really don't know what to make of all of this, at least as to the impact on us and our lives in the community. My sense is that Mike is right about the net result of combining districts -- it should eliminate layers of bureaucracy and put more cops on the streets, which is a good thing. I wish we could do the same thing with the aldermanic fiefdoms."

"The move may put more cops on the road but a concern is how we can get the former 21st District to maintain its current beats and specialized units (especially the stuff that concerns us the most in HP like robbery, gangs, etc.). Further, the sense is that resource allocation within the "new" district will be based on "high crime" areas, which is not HP/South Kenwood, which may mean that our current resource levels get leached away to more problematic areas."

"...the CAPS officer [who said this may be a bad move] has personal concerns as his position is considered an administrative position and in the near future he might be returned to field duty. If this CAPS officer worked for me, he would be in a beat car tonight.

I have reviewed what Superintendent McCarthy has initially released to the public and am not fearful of the proposed changes. Whether the 21st District is merged into 002 or 003 is not a problem as long as the number of beat cars remain the same or are increased. As one who was involved in providing police services to the Hyde Park/Kenwood community in the past I am aware that the hierarchy of CPD pay attention to the concerns of the University of Chicago and I have no doubt that they will in the future.

The bottom line to the reorganization is the City no longer has the revenue streams to support a larger police department and it is necessary to return sworn police officers to the concept that they were originally hired for "Serving and Protecting" and not performing administrative duties that could be performed, if necessary, by civilian personnel.
"

 

Herald editorial October 17

21st District must be preserved

It looks like the hard working folks at the 21st District police headquarters have done their job a little too well in recent years. Our first-term mayor, Rahm Emanuel, seems to think the 21st District doesn't need a headquarters anymore, or that recent decreases in crime are doe to factors other than the work of the 21st District. Emanuel is proposing that the station, along with two others in Chicago, be shuttered to help close the city's budget gap.

The 21st District is Hyde Park's police district. This neighborhood has struggle for decades to achieve a relatively safe environment. Is this the thanks we get?

Perhaps the massive demolition of public housing in the district is considered a magic bullet that made crime decrease and justifies closure of a station on the Mid-South Side. This is a common but erroneous assumption. While a lot of public housing has come down in recent years, the crime that often plague those buildings was not some sort of curse that disappeared along with the bricks and mortar. In fact, the former sites of the buildings continued to be destinations for criminal activity once vacant, and it took the dedicated work of officers within close proximity to the sites to eliminate that criminal presence.

We need a police presence that is dedicated to our communities and not grappling with the unique situations of a half-dozen or more neighborhoods.

Looking beyond our neighborhood's borders, it would be a huge mistake for Hyde Parkers to think that crime on the northern end of the district, which reaches up into the Oakwood and Douglas communities, does not affect quality of life here. It certainly does. When any part of the mid-South Side is destabilized, we are all affected, and this proposal could very well do just that.

Huge strides have been made in decreasing crime in Bronzeville, but the mayor is just plain wrong if he thinks that wiping out the 21st isn't going to reverse that trend. That neighborhood remains in the balance and needs more resources poured into its public institutions, not less, in order to secure the changes that recent years -- an a whole lot of hard work -- have brought to the area.

What's also needed is a public conversation about how we can do our fair share of belt-tightening in difficult economic circumstances --- not the sort of top-down pronouncements that have all-too-often left the South Side disproportionately affected. The mayor needs to bear in mind that city government isn't the only place where times are tough, and tough times often mean an increase in desperation -- and desperate action. More creative solutions than closing police stations are essential if our economically challenging times are to be managed without lasting damage to the city -- and to our communities on the South Side.

Herald editorial of November 16, somewhat moderated from previous after a visit of reassurance from the city and police

The Herald received a visit from representatives of both the mayor's officed adn the Chicago Police Department last week to discuss the proposed consolidation of the 21st Police District with the 2nd Police District. While a lot of ground was covered during the conversation, on point was quite clear: Absent significant protest by residents of teh 21st, which includes Hyde Park and Kenwood, the change is coming to our community soon.

The representatives were sharp and enthusiastic and mostly let the statistics do the talking for them. Here are a couple of sets of numbers that stood out to us:

The new system would also dedicate officers to beats, a practice that is at best sporadically attempted now. Those officers would be responsible for controlling criminal activity in those specific areas under the assumption that greater accountability will increase motivation.

Overall, we found the proposal well thought out, and we are convinced that our visitors are sold on the idea of consolidation. We, however, are still not.

Why not?

Among our many outstanding concerns is that the plan appears to view conditions on the Mid-South Side as if from a snapshot, not appreciating the work that has gotten us to this point. In the community immediately surrounding 21st District headquarter, which is located at 300 E. 29th St., hundreds of acres of public housing have been demolished in the past decade. The replacement housing -- experimental, mixed-income developments -- have only begun to fill in the gaping hole created by that demolition. Renewal of Hyde Park is a decades-old experiment which has achieved racial and class integration only through tremendous effort. The circumstances of each of these communities reinforce the conditions of the other, and the wider perception of these neighborhoods in terms of security can potentially impact the whole South Side. Both are works in progress. Is this being taken into consideration? We worry that it is not.

If anything, our visitors reinforced this concern, attempting to reassure us that adjustments would come if conditions changed. Our position is that conditions begin to change the day 21st District headquarters are closed.

We are simply not convinced that police stations do not matter. We believe they loom large in the landscape of both criminals and visitors to communities, projecting authority to the dismay of the former and reassurance of the latter.

We think they also matter to residents. Add any building that represents city service to a community and the message is that those residents matter. Closing a building sends the opposite message. Al the logic in the world will not change that; it's human nature.

Exacerbating these concerns is the new superintendent's mantra that these changes reflect a change to a more businesslike approach to policing, as he has said repeatedly in community meetings. This is very likely an appealing formula to CEOs, but it is not to the average Chicagoan, and it is not to us.

As of Herald press time, a vote will be taken on the budget on Wednesday that will set the wheels in motion for this consolidation. We encourage all the citizens in the 21st District to watch for criminal activity where there has been none, and to remember ... in Chicago ... a vote doesn't necessarily make it so.