Saturday, February 15, 2014

SNUBBED: Police Superintendent Ignores Tunney's Budget Questions; South Side Alderman Gets Nearly 50 Pages Of Answers

As the Chicago City Council debated the police department's 2014 budget last autumn, two aldermen submitted questions for Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to respond to in writing.

20th ward Alderman Willie B. Cochran's submissions received lengthy responses.

Wrigleyville and Boystown alderman Tom Tunney's questions were never answered.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Maybe Alderman Tunney's
questions got misplaced in that messy office?
Despite the snub, Tunney voted in favor of the proposed budget anyway.

Those are the facts laid out in the response that a CWB reader received to a Freedom of Information Act request following our January 9th, 2014, post "IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: But No Public Answers."

While "Alderman Tunney's questions were not answered by the Chicago Police Department," according to a letter from an officer in the department's Office of Legal Affairs, alderman Cochran's list of 50 questions received a 43-page response from McCarthy and a separate response from the Office of Management and Budget.

In addition, Cochran submitted nine follow-up questions in writing after McCarthy's in-person budget committee testimony. McCarthy sent a two-page response within 10 days.

Through it all, Tunney's questions about our neighborhood's problems were ignored.

Among the unanswered questions that Tunney posed to McCarthy:
• How many police officers did the 19th District have prior to the merger [of the former 19th and 23rd police districts]? How many police officers do we have today? Please do not include officers assigned to protective details and therefore unavailable to answer calls for service.
• What are the reasons for this drop in manpower?
• Broken down by watches, how many times in 2013 has the 19th District been unable to man all of its beat cars and rapid response cars because it did not have enough officers on duty?
• Although I understand that an officer may refuse to do so for personal safety reasons, on average how many police officers, like 19th District Officer Richard Francis, whose killer was convicted of murder yesterday, ride alone in cars during each watch in 19?
• When will the police department open slots in the 19th District thereby allowing officers from other districts to bid to move to 19 and get our numbers back up?
You can read all of Tunney's unanswered questions on our Google Drive HERE.

In Contrast...
While those questions about police service and the safety of our officers sat unanswered, McCarthy was able to dig up all sorts of minutia for Cochran, including nuggets such as correct email address formatting and the rate of police department applicant disqualification due to failure of psychological testing, broken down by race.

TRIVIA: Asians fail the psych test most frequently (13.59% of the time) followed by American Indians' and Alaska Natives' 11.54% failure rate.

You can see all of Cochran's questions and McCarthy's generous responses HERE.

Submission of questions for written responses is a standard practice. In 2011, 18 aldermen submitted written questions during the police budget process. All received responses.

Issues
So, there are some issues here.
• The police superintendent disrespects our elected representative to the point of not answering important questions about the department's operation in our neighborhood.
• The superintendent's willingness to not answer these questions, in turn, shows a lack of concern and respect for the citizens who work, live, play, and conduct business in our neighborhoods, not to mention the very officers who serve here.
• Presumably, our alderman asked important questions that he needed answered so he could decide how to cast his vote. Nonetheless, when his questions were ignored, he cast his vote in favor of the budget any way.
It seems pretty clear from this that the occasional cries of concern that we hear coming from the 44th ward alderman are theater. The one thing he controls is his vote. Yet, his questions went ignored by the police superintendent and he cast his vote along with 44 other rubber stamps anyway.

At least Lake View residents who live west of our ward have an alderman who isn't afraid to say "no" when it counts.

The reader's Freedom of Information request sought copies of all written questions received by the police department and all of the answers provided to the aldermen's questions during the 2014 budget review process. All of the department's responsive documents are available HERE.
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