Friday, May 17, 2013

WE SERVE AND PROTECT: Unless We're Too Busy

Service and protection? Don't bet on it in Wrigleyville and Boystown.
The 19th district's manpower crisis reached an embarrassing level overnight.

A victim who we will call "G" was beaten and robbed outside of Berlin nightclub, 954 W. Belmont, shortly before 4:00 AM.  But the real gut punch didn't come from the guy who robbed him. It came from the 19th district Watch Commander, who announced that there were no officers available to help "G," and if "G" wanted to file a report, he'd have to walk 3/4s of a mile to the police station.

Let's recap:
  • A citizen is robbed.
  • The district is understaffed to the point that it cannot handle a modest uprising and routine policing at the same time.
  • After Belmont was rocked by fights and violence last night, the police department was unable to keep even a couple of officers in the area to maintain the peace.
  • There was not one police officer available in the entire district to meet "G" at the crime scene, much less make an effort to find the thugs responsible.
  • The watch commander's best solution was to have a victim of violent crime walk more than half a mile through the streets where his attacker was on the loose…and where there were zero cops. (What would you do if you were G?)
  •  If "G" was too scared or too defeated to hike up to Addison Street to file a report, then, as far as the police are concerned, no robbery occurred. Score one for the stats guy.
So, how bad is the 19th district's staffing problem? Very bad, indeed.

Just over a year ago, on March 4, 2012, the newly formed 19th district was staffed by 392 police officers. Today, the district has 307 officers. Our neighborhood has lost nearly 25% of its police force in one year as retiring officers were not replaced and other officers were stripped away from our neighborhood for assignments in other parts of the city.

If the district can literally run out of cops on a mild Thursday in May, what do the hot Saturdays of July hold in store? Gird your loins...for realz.