Monday, January 19, 2015

BIG FIB: Alderman Boasts of Gains, But Area's Still Losing Cops

Officers assigned to the 19th district on the 15th day
of each month. (Source: Chicago Police Dept)
UPDATE: Many manpower data points, accompanied by CPD documentation are available for review HERE.

Full copies of the CPD documents are HERE.
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As the city's elections near, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney is going out of his way to convince people that police manpower is increasing in our decimated 19th district.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Secured through a reader's Freedom of Information request, new Chicago Police Department documents show that our district had two fewer cops last month than in December 2013.

As of last Monday, we'd lost 121 cops in three years—a 26% slashing. The biggest loss of any district.

You'd never know that by reading the newsletter Tunney sent on Friday:
One of my top priorities in 2014 was to increase the number of officers in the 19th District. I worked directly with the leadership of the Chicago Police Department on this and they responded to my requests beginning in March by opening the 19th District to bid positions every month. As a result, we lead the City in the number of positions being offered in the 19th District in 2014 and continue to receive new officers every month. This will continue until we are back to the staffing level that we were prior to the consolidation of the 19th and 23rd districts.
Yes, dozens of officers did transfer into our district last year. But, an even greater number transferred out or retired, leaving a net loss.

How does the alderman expect to regain 121 officers by continuing to lose cops? We asked his office.

Erin Duffy, Tunney's Director of Community Outreach:
During 2014, the 19th District had the most recognized vacancies of all 22 districts.  This month, we are the only district citywide that has opportunities for officers to bid to come to the district. 
Each officer determines if he or she retires or bids out of a district.  So, while the alderman can work on increasing the number of positions available in our district to increase our staffing levels, he has no control over the other side of the equation.
The department could offset the "other side of the equation" by increasing the number of officers it allows to transfer here. But it has not done that because it does not really intend to restore our district's force.

This grid, created by the police department itself, shows the 19th district shrinking last year
while the neighboring 18th district grew. (Source: Chicago Police Department)
How many positions are available this month in the district that's down 121 cops?  Two.

These small-time transfer opportunities were seemingly designed to provide politicians with political cover. The "transfers" allow Tunney and others to play word games, leading the public to believe that things are getting better when they're actually getting worse.

Slipping In Rank

And about this statement by the alderman:
We are currently the 11th highest staffed district out of 22 districts citywide.
We don't think ranking matters. Since the alderman does, we looked it up. In October 2013, our district was #6 out of 22. That means we actually fell five spots last year.

Neighboring District Gains Officers

While officers left our district through the back door as quickly as they came in the front door, the neighboring 18th district gained 20 officers in the closing months of 2014. (See? The department can offset the "other side of the equation" if it wants to.)

The grid above, created by the police department itself, shows the 18th district growing while our district shrinks.

And no fancy wordplay can hide that.
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