Sunday, August 03, 2014

REVERSE: Tough Policing Brings Sharp Drop In Robberies

This graph shows the number of robberies recorded
on current police beats 1923, 1924, and 1925
from January 1 through July 31 of each year.
Source: City of Chicago Data Portal
An increase in the number of police officers assigned to overnight shifts combined with more aggressive policing tactics have driven robberies in Wrigleyville and Boystown down to their lowest level since 2010—a rate that is in line with what the neighborhood saw before it experienced three record-breaking years of violent crime.

"We have been able to fully staff the [overnight shift] which helps tremendously," 19th District Commander Elias Voulgaris told us in an email.

Graph showing the number of officers assigned to
the current 19th district at various times since 2011.
Source: Chicago Police Department
And, after losing 27% of our police officers in two years, the 19th district has recently added a (very) modest number officers to its rolls. The district still has fewer total officers than it did last summer.

"Even a few helps," Voulgaris said. "Ultimately, though, it's the hard work of our officers and their visibility and the arrests they make which sends a message."

Perception Problem

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy put on a dog and pony show for a few aldermen last Friday, serving up a bunch of word salad about why people should trust him and his statistics.

McCarthy had his own take on why robberies are suddenly down in our neighborhood: It's his management system, called CompStat:
[It is] an illustration of the district's Comstat [sic] tactics, which call for timely, accurate intelligence with crime stats identifying problem areas, rapid deployment to those areas, effective tactics against the given crimes and "relentless follow-up and assessment."
Did you catch that? Our neighborhood suffered through three consecutive years—years—of record-breaking robbery levels. Now, suddenly, we're gaining a few cops and robberies are being knocked back into shape. McCarthy calls three years of trouble "timely" and "rapid deployment?" Sorry, Garry. Compstat is not the reason things may be on the brink of changing here.

For years, citizens at monthly CAPS meetings repeatedly told the police department that there was a problem brewing. Some even brought statistics with them, only to be stared at, to have CAPS officers play dumb, and to have absolutely, positively nothing done. 

Our alderman played right along. Denying. Ignoring. Staring into space (he's really good at that). He allowed his constituents and visitors to be beaten and robbed in record numbers in order to protect the neighborhood's reputation.

Friday, Alderman Tom Tunney said the crime issue here has reached the point that "it’s embarrassing for me to be in front of my community groups."

Good.
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