Yeah, I’ve got a vested interest in this story since I live in East Village, which is part of Chicago’s 12th police district. A couple of years ago the Chicago police department merged the 12th and 13th police districts in an effort to reduce costs. I’m not sure where the savings were supposed to come from but apparently cutting police staffing in the resultant 12th district was not part of the plan. In fact, I understand that at the time Superintendent McCarthy told the city council that the police staffing of the combined district was to remain the same at 524 officers. In addition, as a result of the merger the residents of the original 13th district were told there would actually be more officers on the street. Instead, district 12 is now only staffed with 329 police officers – only 63% of the original staffing – and the residents are concerned about the threat to their safety.
Now, if you’ve been a long time reader of this blog you know how much I like data but unfortunately there really isn’t any readily available data that I can find that puts this problem in perspective. Ideally I’d like to see police staffing, crime, and population by police district but this data is remarkably impossible to find. Even the annual Chicago police reports that they used to publish haven’t been released since 2010, which is really disappointing. Supposedly they were discontinued because someone high up “didn’t like them” but they are returning next year. The people at The Chicago Justice Project have called out the Chicago Police Department for not being more transparent on the issue of staffing. In about a week or so I’ll be doing my annual update on crime in Chicago and at that time I’ll see if I can at least dig up the crime statistics by district.
Here is what Chicago’s 12th police district looks like (even this map was really hard to find). This is a somewhat smaller version of the original but you can click on it to see the larger original. It includes the neighborhoods of Ukrainian Village, East Village, the West Loop, Little Italy, University Village, University Commons, and Pilsen. In terms of community areas it includes West Town, the Near West Side, and the Lower West Side.
So, what can you do about this? This is a political issue and therefore the squeaky wheel gets the oil. You can squeak most effectively by signing the petition to restore adequate police to district 12. The petition puts forth specific proposals to restore police staffing levels:
- Add a net of 25 officers to the 12th District/Near West by December 31, 2016 for a total of 354 officers
- Add another 25 by June 30, 2017 for a total of 404 officers, which will return the District to the August 16, 2014 level (per at July 28, 2014 FOIA request)
- To temporarily boost the number of officers on the street during peak crime hours, offer 12th District officers the opportunity to work overtime on 1st Watch on Saturday and Sunday and 3rd Watch on Friday and Saturday
- Return all officers currently detailed out of the 12th District/Near West for Summer Mobile and Bike Patrols
- Stop detailing officers to other districts to cover for special events unless it is on their regular day off and
- Extend free health benefits for officers citywide that are 55 and have 20 years on the job for an additional three years (age of 58) to encourage veteran officers to stay preventing a mass exodus in the next year giving CPD time to train new officers to take their place.
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area’s full service discount real estate brokerage. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider’s view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think he’s the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.